The Bunker Below – Full Review

The Bunker Below is a Haunted Attraction located in Brentwood, Essex.

Kelvedon Hatch, Brentwood, Essex CM15 0LA
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Haunt Type(s):

Haunted House


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This attraction was reviewed on October 20, 2023 by Team Crypt Seekers.

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Final Score: 8.39

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The Bunker Below is a nearly hour-long haunt experience over 100ft underground in a secret nuclear bunker at Kelveden Hatch in Essex County, not far outside Greater London. The attraction is very new, only in its third year of operation in 2023. Still, you would never guess this as the experience is remarkably complex and well put together, and one of the scarier haunts we’ve attended this year in the UK.

Upon entering the premises, you are informed the centre is doing research into the science of fear and that a horrible audio recording known as The Signal has been discovered to drive all those who hear it mad, completely invading their mind with visions of absolute terror. Unfortunately, as test subjects, we too were exposed to this signal upon arrival and then forced into a menacing maze based both in the woods outside of the bunker and mostly within the nuclear site itself, where the terrifying tunnels of the facility are inundated by the creatures within who have already been exposed to, and have now succumbed, to the evil that lurks in the sounds permeating the complex.

Cast Score: 8.1

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Cast Review:

This year, The Bunker Below has undergone an expansion, and the effects are unmistakable. Right from the moment we stepped into the enigmatic adventure, it was evident that a significant troupe of performers was in action. The enlarged team facilitated a more profound and spine-tingling immersion. At every twist and turn, lurking within the shadows (especially throughout the woods segment), actors were poised to send shivers racing down our spines.

The actors excel in their roles. They not only demonstrated creativity in their portrayal of a myriad of characters but also delivered convincingly. Whether it was the quirky scientist who welcomed us at the tent’s entrance or the imposing military officer who interrogated us, every character integrated into the eerie narrative. Their ability to engage with the audience added a genuine layer of horror to the experience.

Interactivity stood out as a central highlight of the event. The actors were not there just for jump-scares; they interacted with visitors, making us an integral part of the unfolding tale. At the command centre, we were probed about our fears and assessed for our suitability for the experiment. As test subjects, we found ourselves navigating the horrors of the bunker, pursued by an array of nightmarish creatures. The interactive components kept us on edge throughout the journey.

The array of characters we encountered was nothing short of impressive. From the uncanny entities concealed within the woods to the lightning-fast spectre with an almost gossamer face covering, each character introduced a unique dimension of terror – and actively grabbed at us on many occasions! Whether we were venturing through a room brimming with ominous bunk beds and menacing figures or engaging in an anxiety-inducing game of hide and seek with a harrowing clown, the diverse cast of characters added remarkable depth to the experience.

Costuming Score: 7.84

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Costuming Review:

The Bunker Below excels in crafting immersive and chilling experiences through its meticulous attention to detail in costume design. The costumes serve as a vital element in enhancing the atmosphere of fear and suspense, encapsulating the essence of each character and their role within the storyline. From the doctors evaluating participants in the queue to the soldiers guiding them through the eerie journey and the menacing creatures lurking in the shadows, the level of detail is nothing short of impeccable.

A prime example of this creativity and attention to detail can be seen in the subtle yet effective use of a glow-in-the-dark prosthetic on an actor portraying a cultist in the woods, which draws your gaze, making the character stand out. Meanwhile, the fabric-covered face of a creature lurking beneath a series of desks adds an extra layer of spine-chilling intensity to the experience as it reaches out to participants’ ankles, delivering a realistic scare.

Even more “normal” characters, such as the sudden chainsaw-wielding maniac, were well conceived. The synergy between the costumes and the scenes’ themes is a strong point. The maze, delving into participants’ deepest fears, features various zones that mirror these phobias. The costumes are tailored for each zone, guaranteeing an immersive experience. Whether it’s the demonic doctor’s surgery with a surgeon clad in full scrubs or the eerie clown in a colourful outfit, each character’s attire remains consistent with their environment.

Customer Service Score: 8.88

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We were really impressed with the level of information on The Bunker Below website, with all the usual information regarding tickets, navigation, and other useful facts to read through before attending. The website was very easy to navigate, and they have a lot of media to help tell the story of the experience and start worldbuilding and immersion right from the start.

While it was a bit tricky finding the location on arrival, there was someone in costume as soon as we parked up to show us down the right path towards the bunker, and there was signage all along the route explaining the route us as “test subjects” had to take to get to our destination.

The route to the intake tent and the haunted trail outside in the woods were a tad bit slippery, but there was a good amount of lighting throughout to help navigate and make the paths safe. Once we neared the intake tent, there was a scare actor right at the front of it to welcome us to the site and show us the way – it was great use of actors to show us how to get to various locations while still staying in character.

We also must applaud how great the lighting and signage were in a space that was quite confusing to navigate. There are quite a lot of stairs at this location, but the stairwells were well-lit (but still on-theme), and the stairwells that weren’t as well-lit had an actor in costume warning us of how many steps to expect. Navigation was a bit unnerving but really well done, and we felt like all the staff were lovely and approachable but still all in the character of the world around them, which was fantastic.

Immersion Score: 8.78

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Immersion Review:

As hinted at above, there was a remarkable level of immersion from start to finish with this maze, from the military actor in the parking lot telling us where to go to the research scientists we met at the intake and then all within the bunker itself. The fact that this is a site-specific production and is a real nuclear bunker helps the worldbuilding of the experience. Still, The Bunker Below did well in utilizing the best aspects of the site to their benefit and also knew how to enhance it.

The beginning of the experience, while a simple tent, is entirely in theme with the experience, and we were interrogated like test subjects so that we believed in our role from the very start. While the very beginning of the intake tent wasn’t eerie, the transition between the intake tent and the tent where we were exposed to The Signal was well done and allowed for a believable introduction to the world we were about to experience after exposure to the deadly sound.

From the information online to the intake questions from the research scientists and from the information provided by the military team on exposure to The Signal, there was a great storyline created. Even though there were lots of different scenes and fears presented, they all made sense in the story being told, and all made sense in their existence in this bunker facility. From rooms full of old-style desks and typewriters to military-style bunk beds and to a boiler room and gas masks, everything was well suited to the space around us and was believable from start to finish. There was a very good flow in all the rooms as well, with the chaotic lights and sound of a bunker tying in each room and making it feel like one whole experience rather than lots of different pieces being puzzled together.

Special FX Score: 8.25

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Special FX Review:

The sound effects in The Bunker Below are spine-tingling. At the heart of this chilling odyssey lies “The Signal,” a masterful creation that has the power to drive anyone who hears it to the brink of madness. The eerie soundscapes and haunting sirens, combined with this audio recording, weave a pervasive sense of impending doom. These sound effects keep you in a perpetual state of unease, as if you’re ensnared in a nightmarish abyss. The amalgamation of uncanny audio elements and haunting sirens had us poised to bolt at any given moment. It was especially apparent during the finale when the sound of a dune buggy racing up on us was clearly discernible.

The scene designs strike a remarkable balance between reality and fiction. Nestled within the real Kelvedon Hatch Secret Nuclear Bunker, the genuineness of the location enhances the immersive horror experience. Whether in rooms filled with bunk beds or eerie computer-filled spaces, the meticulous attention to detail and inventive setups keep you guessing at every twist and turn.

Many of the props are positioned to instil the belief that they might spring to life at any given moment – think mannequins poised for a malevolent awakening and huddled figures on bunk beds on the verge of rising before your very eyes.

Other sensory effects were also notable, including the smoke-filled tent where “The Signal” is first encountered, where feeling your way forward is the sole option. The disorienting, pitch-black environment, augmented by strategic lighting, keeps you in a heightened state of alertness, anticipating scares from every conceivable direction. Creatures are unveiled by the lighting at the very last instant, delivering heart-pounding jump scares.

Scare Factor Score: 8.54

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Scare Factor Review:

The Bunker Below was an intensely scary haunt. While not considered an ‘extreme’ maze (there was only light ankle grabbing), the timing of the scares and lighting still made this a very terrifying experience. Deranged characters attacked us during any and all moments, and the actors made great use of immense areas of darkness to plan their attacks. There were countless rooms we went through that ‘looked’ empty, but we knew that there was something somewhere that was hiding in the darkness, and it was in these moments that really made our hair stand on end and which caused very intense senses of dread.

Actors did lean on this type of scare tactic for most of the experience, however, so we soon had an idea of when actors would pop out – it would often be when the lights went out and then back on again, with an actor suddenly right in front of us ready to pounce. But even if we knew when to predict these scares, they were still incredibly startling! We especially liked when some of the actors broke this trend of waiting in the dark and instead going all out in attacking us. There was one memorable room where creatures came from around, on top, and underneath writing desks, really getting in our faces and jumping at us and making a proactive attack on us. It was great to see these moments of aggressiveness mixed with the eerie moments of actors waiting for us in the dark when we were the most vulnerable.

Finally, we have mixed reviews of the finale, which ended in an insanely long and dim tunnel at the end. The set for this was absolutely terrifying, and we were sure there was evil lurking in the midst of this dreadfully long vortex. Still, even though the set was terrifying, there wasn’t much actually in the tunnel that was attacking, so while this final scene had the bones and structure of a petrifying experience, it was missing just a touch of something more to make a truly amazing finale.

Entertainment & Value Score: 8.5

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E&V Review:

This haunt is exceptional value for money. For a ticket price ranging from £24.50 to £25.50, this experience offers nearly an hour of entertainment, making it an accessible choice for a full night of chills. There’s both the outdoor and the indoor part of the attraction, giving two related but completely different experiences.

The ticket price includes the scare maze and the interactive queue actors who set the eerie mood right from the start, but this is the extent of the entertainment on offer.

Many competitors charge similar prices for shorter experiences, making this haunt a cost-effective choice for those looking to enjoy an extended and immersive adventure.

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