Review of The Thirteenth Hour Haunted Attraction
Review of The Thirteenth Hour Haunted Attraction
Review of The Thirteenth Hour Haunted Attraction
The Thirteenth Hour
The Thirteenth Hour is a Haunted Attraction located in Indianapolis, IN.
850 South Keystone Avenue, Indianapolis, IN 46203View All Details
Free Parking, “Old-School” (Low Tech), Original Characters, Uncovered Outdoor Waiting Line, All-Outdoor Attraction
Team Zombillies reviewed this Haunted Attraction on October 6, 2018.
Special Note for 2018:
We’ve changed the way we give scores for this year. We are now using a weighted average that puts more emphasis on certain features of the haunt (IE: “How scary was it,” versus “Does the haunt’s location authenticate their theme”). That said, these scores should not be used in comparisons to previous seasons. For more information about this, click on the small “Score Sheet” link at the bottom of this review. We appreciate your understanding. Thanks and Happy Haunting! –The Scare Factor
Final Score: 8.51
The Thirteenth Hour is one Indy’s newest haunts with 2018 marking its 2nd season of operation. With 2 consecutive attractions, the Cathedral of Souls and The Catacombs, the names alone make the mind wonder and, if you’re at all versed in the Indiana haunt scene, come to the realization that this probably isn’t like most other haunts in the area.
If that sounds like you, then you’d be correct! Despite being outdoors with an “open air” concept, the creators of this attraction have worked extremely hard to breathe life… or death… into the character-clad ruins of this 100-year-old, dilapidated church. The scene detail and actor quality alone would never make you think this was a 2nd-year attraction and, on top of that, returning visitors and noobs to Thirteenth Hour alike will delight in the freshly-unearthed additions for 2018!
We’ll put it this way: this attraction earned our “Most Surreal Haunt” award last year and, as of this writing, they’re sittin’ pretty for defending that title in 2018. If diving into a bone-chilling haunted house sounds like something you’re looking for, then The Master awaits your arrival in the Catacombs, and a sacrifice must be made…
Although one of the owners informed us that the haunt was short about 10 actors on the night we attended, those that were there did a great job of making up for their absence; they were spaced out enough to keep the suspense flowing nicely throughout both attractions. Each of them knew their roles very well, and stayed in character throughout the entire tour.
It’s almost like there are 2 different types of actors at Thirteenth Hour. There are a handful of key standouts… the “stars” of the show, if you will… and those that are basically in charge of making sure you don’t get bored as you make your way between them. The latter are interspersed throughout the passageways; you never really know if they’re real or a prop… until it’s too late. Despite not being as “lively” or interactive as their more linguistically-skilled counterparts, their existence still serves the attractions well. They still got several, “WTH” and “Didn’t know that was real” reactions from us! Though, these were probably the fiends whose positions were “sacrificed” due to the aforementioned staffing issues on the night of our visit.
At various points, we came across the key characters of the story: priests, nuns, Heinrich Chapel himself and, of course, “The Master” just to name a few. Each were very well-scripted, interacted with both of us, and played key roles in advancing the Themes of the haunts. At one point, they rearranged the order in which our group was walking through, and one of us was marked as The Master’s sacrifice (and, thus, targeted multiple times the rest of the way). They were even able to coax out one of our names and had a great way of implementing that knowledge later on in the show.
Perhaps these actors’ greatest assets were their dialogue and delivery techniques. Their theatrical expertise became evident early on, which set the bar high for the rest of the tour. Fortunately, with matter-of-fact demeanors and a healthy dose of sinister confidence, they managed to satisfy the expectations set forth by the opening act. The Master really solidified the finale scene with the help of a voice-changing speaker system. This was a great touch, and is something we don’t see very often, but we might advise tinkering with the settings to make it a little less obvious next year.
A few of the characters (especially the females) were downright mean, such as the unfriendly nun that was snapping a belt as she angrily told us, “I smell sinners!” and the priestess that assured us, “Not to worry; death is coming.” She also called us “wretched humans” more than once. Another was hiding within the walls and, at one point, he weaseled out of his seemingly-closed-in hiding spot (unbeknownst to us) and was able to sneak in several jump scares. The spider lady was skin-crawling creepy, attempting to lull us into “staying for dinner” with her and her children by singing an eerie version of itsy bitsy spider.
Keeping with the themes, most of what you’ll see includes priests, nuns, and robed, monk-like skeletons with each having subtle variations between them. Although there isn’t a large variety of costumes, they look to be of high quality and match their respective scenes flawlessly.
Our interactions with the more human-based characters allowed us to get some good looks at their makeups during our tour. None [of their makeups] seemed overly-elaborate, but rather showcased heavily-darkened facial features with fine details that made them appear more evil looking and authentically aged. We even noticed some colored contacts that helped the nun look like she’d just came straight from Hell!
The spider lady had debatably the most detailed makeup, though, with multiple eyes, hues of insect-like greens and blues, and an elegantly-hooped black victorian dress that simply commanded our attention. Another returning favorite is the black bride (or widow?) with her similarly-elaborate all-black dress with matching lace veil and bouquet… and white-clad counterpart. Lastly, The Master had some interesting makeup going on too; the color choices were pretty unique, striking us as a bit odd, really – not what we would’ve imagined that type of character wearing. But hey, it worked!
The not-so-humans generally had some good-looking skull masks paired with boney gloves and, on occasion, a wooden staff or other accessory to compliment their scene.
Customer Service: 9
The most difficult part of the Thirteenth Hour experience is probably finding the entrance to pull in… especially if you’ve never been here before. The haunt is located on the same grounds as a traffic control facility and a tall privacy fence is in place that runs parallel to the road. It does a great job of hiding the various pieces of road equipment that get stored here, and it also does a good job of hiding the haunt. We recall driving right past the place last year, so again, unless you know what you’re looking for, trust your GPS and slow down once you start getting close. Look for a relatively small opening in the fence. Once you pull in though, your haunt-seeking eyes won’t be able to miss their glorious facade (more on that in Atmosphere below) and the “Thirteenth Hour” road construction sign that’s staged close to the entrance. Speaking of that sign, we aren’t sure why they’re not putting it on the other side of the fence (possibly local laws), but it would work wonders for spotting the entrance if they could find a way to get that out by the road so folks can see it better.
Taking full advantage of their on-hand supplies, orange pylons (and one of the friendliest security officers we’ve met in a while) will guide you to the best place to park your car. The lot is fairly small, partially due to the road equipment that’s taking up some of the space, so arrive early and be patient with other people if you arrive on a busy night. The lot is fairly well lit, free to use and covered with gravel.
A custom “Thirteenth Hour” entryway marks the entrance to the ticket booth line, where a nice lady will stamp your hand with black-light ink before you proceed to the queue area. Several more staff members are scattered about to help keep things flowing smoothly and a mixture of music helps pass the time waiting in line. The entire property is flat and the walking surface is gravel, so slip hazards weren’t really an issue – even though it had just rained quite a bit before we arrived. We did note a few small water puddles though, so it’s still advisable to wear appropriate footwear (you don’t want gravel getting in your flip flops, people). Despite the downpour, these guys took special measures to mitigate the water and keep their special effects intact, so they were able to open immediately after the rain had passed. They also did a great job of posting that they would still be open on their Facebook page. For hours, dates of operation and ticket prices / options, their website has it all.
Even though the adjacent highway department buildings are kindof old and creepy in their own way, they and all of the construction equipment, including the orange pylons used to organize the queue area, don’t exactly scream “100-year-old gothic cathedral.” There… now that we’ve mentioned that stuff let’s get to the awesome part…
The haunt’s facade is the centerpiece of the atmosphere and one of the most intricate and beautifully-lit entryways we’ve seen in the Indianapolis area. It may not be quite as big as a genuine cathedral, but all of the details are there, including concrete moulding, curved stained-glass windows, large wooden doors, crumbling masonry, and realistic weathering that make it looks like it’s every bit as old as they claim. Accompanied by a mix of sinister soundtracks (and modern, up-beat music), custom “Thirteenth Hour” entryways for the queue and ticket lines, and a coffin-shaped photo booth with color-changing lights, it’s clear that valiant efforts have been made to keep your attention focused away from the not-so-haunty surroundings. Even the exit of the haunt is clad with cut-up church pews and fog rolling out from inside! Once you near the entrance, you’ll start to hear the ominous sounds of your heart beating loudly and the cathedral’s bells alerting its residents of your arrival. If you make it to the 2nd attraction, yet another highly-detailed (but smaller scale) facade with an ominous grim reaper looming overhead will be what awaits you there. It all works very well together to get this uniquely-immersive experience kicked off on the right foot and staying that way throughout its duration… it’s just a shame the place isn’t located out in the middle of the woods or something.
Special Effects: 8.7
The opening scene single-handedly relays the fact that there are some unique and dramatic special effects in use here. Even the most common effects, such as fog and lighting, are used in more distinctive ways than we typically see at other haunts. It’s evident that these guys must have some extensive theater or production backgrounds because nearly every element (that’s within their control) has been modified to sink you into an alternative reality.
The walkways and scenes are generally guarded by black walls, but authentic decorations and sounds are carefully and logically placed to make the rooms within this dilapidated church come to life… sometimes literally! Some of the set pieces include church pews, podiums and altars, cobwebs, melted candles, and antique artifacts. The sounds of church bells and hair-raising hymns add a great layer to the experience, but we didn’t notice them completely throughout the expedition. You may also come across giant spiders, a skeleton that comes flying toward you and some ghostly illusions. A myriad of LED pin lights and faux ceilings help keep your attention inside the scenes while highlighting significant details.
A laser tunnel and several secret doors were among some of our favorite effects this year, as were the catacomb-like passageways and, particularly, one of the ritual rooms that uses strobes to take away your night vision when you so desperately feel like you need it…
However, the Master’s finale involves an impressive rig that allows it to float in the air on command, which is definitely a “must-see!” There are also some new additions to the exit tunnel that, combined with a pulsating heartbeat sound that we could feel in our chests, prove that sometimes the most simple of objects can be still be the most effective when used properly.
Everyone loves a good story, and us reviewers love a solid theme introduction that gets us ready for what we’re about to experience. Surprisingly, not many haunts are able to pull this off exceptionally well. Luckily, The Thirteenth Hour is NOT one of those haunts. The experience begins with a ritual inside what’s left of the chapel to this 100-year-old forsaken Cathedral of Souls. Guests are asked to take a seat on the provided church pews to listen to – or “experience,” rather – the backstory of this attraction… which goes a little something like this:
“In 1913, 12 people entered this unholy place and were never heard from again. Heinrich Chapel once used the Cathedral to perform horrifying rituals in his search for eternal life. The ruins that surround you are all that remains of the forsaken Cathedral of Souls. But tonight, the doors will open once again; but this time, they’re opening for you!”
This story is told by a menacing voice that’s accompanied by an actor and a host of other impressive effects before your journey even begins, which really helps set the tone for the rest of the walk-through. If you don’t know what the theme is by now, then you’re either dead, sleeping or flat-out not paying attention. As we made our way through, the theme was reiterated by some of the talking characters and we even ran into Heinrich Chapel himself, as well as some of the missing people (although they aren’t exactly “people” anymore)!
Scare Factor: 8.13
In all honesty, if you’re looking for an action-packed, scream-your-head-off-all-the-way-through haunt that’s gonna make you leave in horror, then The Thirteenth Hour is probably not for you… especially if you’re an avid haunt-go’er like us. On the contrary, this is a place for those who are looking for something a little different… something that’s probably not going to scar you for life, but is still creepy, exceptionally suspenseful and will still give you some good jumps.
Perhaps the best way to describe this haunt is “unsettling.” A combination of testy characters, good hiding spots, subtle distractions, group separations, distant whispers and cult-like chants will keep your heart rate high with anticipation of what’s to come. Occasionally, you’ll still find some more-intense scares like drop panels, fog blasts and giant monsters, but these are the exception and not the norm here. Most of the scares linger from scene to scene through masterfully-created moments of suspense (ie: decoys).
The finale of The Thirteenth Hour is unique because of how different it is; you won’t be chased by large monsters or hillbillies with chainsaws here. Instead, you’re actually plunged into the abyss of what we can only describe as what must be a simulation of dying. It’s dark, foggy and quiet (as long as your group-mates can keep their mouths shut), and the overwhelming sound of a heartbeat is your only beacon of hope that you might actually still be alive. “Ok, so it’s dark and foggy with the sound of a heartbeat. That’s it!?” Well, yes… but we didn’t mention what else is in the dark with you, now did we?
Feel that suspense right there? Yeah… these guys are good at that…
Entertainment & Value: 7.65
Ticket prices vary depending on the day that you visit. We attended on a Friday night when General Admission tickets were priced at $20 per soul. If the line is long and you want little to no wait, Fast Lane tickets can be purchased for an additional $10. We were inside the Church and Catacombs for a total of 15 minutes. At this ticket price, their MPD (minutes of entertainment per dollar) rating comes to 0.75 which is quite a bit below the average we’ve seen most often (1.5).
There was a line during our visit and we noticed one actor who came out to play with the crowd. There were also a few areas set up providing photo opportunities including a coffin with color-changing lights.
Although this ticket price sounds pretty steep, we had a great time during our visit and the theme alone made for a spooky time. The true value comes from this haunt being so different and providing a level of immersion that’s hard to find anywhere else.
Photos from Review Trip:
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Best Introduction Scene (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Best Use of Fog (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Unique Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Improved Attraction (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out - Arch Bishop - John Ramey (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out - Heinrich Chapel - Joel Beebe (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Actor Shout Out - The Nun - Mackenzie Madden (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Memorable Moment - Theme Intro (Given by: Team Zombillies)
Most Surreal Haunt (Given by: Team Zombillies)