Should a first timer be scared of Halloween Horror Nights 7?
I admit – even though I’m a theme park enthusiast who’s been to Universal Studios Singapore countless times, I’ve never actually been to a single run of Halloween Horror Nights (HHN). I’ve just never been a fan of horror. Which is the reason why my colleagues made me go through it this year (thanks friends).
If you’ve never been to HHN and are apprehensive about whether or not you should finally join your friends this year (because #FOMO), you’ve come to the right place. Here’s my first experience of HHN.
- Unique: Zombie Laser Tag
- Haunted Houses: Death Mall . Inside the Mind . Make the Cut . Terrorcotta Empress . Hex
- Scare Zones: Happy Horror Days . Pilgrimage of Sin
- Shows: Slice of Life Tour . Laboratorium
The Opening Scaremony
In the same way that I often take milder roller coasters like Revenge of The Mummy as a ‘warm-up’ before I sit on extreme rides like Battlestar Galactica: HUMAN vs. CYLON, I was pretty thankful there was the Opening Scaremony because it helped me mentally prepare for the scares that were to ensue.
This year’s Scaremony is a red carpet premiere of a new movie called 7 Sinisters. The stars and director are up on stage promoting their latest movie when something bad happens, and evil takes over.
Expect stunts (‘flying’ body – check), pyrotechnics and an overall visual spectacle, but most importantly, a rousing atmosphere that will get you pumped up for the rest of the night. With that, I was significantly less apprehensive – and in fact more eager to get scared.
Pew, pew, pew at the Zombie Laser Tag Experience
If you’re an adrenaline junkie like me, this one’s definitely for you.
It’s essentially like a usual Laser Tag experience, but with a much bigger arena and zombies scaring you at every corner. Running away from zombies while shooting at them in a post-zombie apocalypse set definitely made it a very immersive and fun experience.
The only downside? I was perspiring quite a bit because I got too excited and started running the whole way through.
This is an add-on experience to HHN7, which means an upcharge of S$38 per person is required to access the game. Each session can only accommodate a team of 4 persons, and each session lasts 15 minutes. If you do the math, you’ll realise that if you really want to experience this, it is best to run this down as early as possible. Based on the preview experience, the wait times can really pile up.
Review of HHN7 Haunted Houses
Quick backstory: Due to the cutting of corners during construction, the mall collapsed on opening day and has been haunted by malicious spirits ever since.
I was fascinated by how realistic everything was at Death Mall: from its live-size SouthPoint Mall façade and a cinema built within the ‘Mall’, right down to minute details like the different array of 3-in-1 beverages you’d find in a supermarket.
I was most uncomfortable in this house because it was so relatable. Familiar places you’ll pass through include a restaurant, supermarket and boutique. It all adds to the intentionally heavy, eerie atmosphere that pervades throughout. Also, because I abhor mannequins.
I personally feel that this is the scariest house this year. Death Mall also happens to be the biggest house that gives you the longest scare experience.
Inside the Mind
This one’s for those who like the abstract, as well as those who prefer thrillers to supernatural horror films. Imagine you’re a neurotransmitter travelling through different parts of a depraved criminal’s brain and you get Inside the Mind.
Having a Minor in Psychology, I appreciated this house particularly for its scientific accuracy in portraying the different parts of the brain, from vision processed in the occipital lobe when you first enter, to aggression processed in the amygdala halfway through.
As someone who takes Instagram very seriously, I also liked this house for its trippy and colourful visual spectacles in the form of illusions as well as lasers with smoke that give you the feeling like you’re floating. And of course, the ‘spinning’ tunnel that makes you stumble on solid ground.
In addition to being a house that combines science with art, Inside the Mind does not have a supernatural element (ghosts and spirits), making it my favourite house of the night.
Make the Cut
This house is perhaps the most modern and refreshing take on horror. It imagines what happens when vanity and narcissism are taken to the extreme.
Seeing the bloody scars incurred from his failed suicide attempt, (fictitious) former Korean Pop star Kim Die Yeong decides to start a sadistic new trend where mutilation is beautiful, and only those willing to slit their faces will have what it takes to Make the Cut in Gore Pop (G-Pop). Literally.
As a walkthrough of a recording studio where you first meet the receptionist, G-Pop singers in recording booths, then Kim himself, it was as though I was an actual aspiring G-Pop singer seeking a shot at fame.
Although this house is pretty gory, I was able to get an adrenaline rush from the jump scares without feeling uncomfortable, and appreciate how coherent and seamless the theming was carried out from start to end.
While Make the Cut offers a modern take on horror, Terrorcotta Empress goes back in history.
As though transcending from death into a realm of life after death, the experience at Terrorcotta Empress involves navigating your way through a massive tomb, Empress Qing’s living quarters (pun intended) and eventually a palace torture chamber. The foreboding themes of death and cruelty are pretty in-your-face in this house.
What I found particularly impressive was the precise attention to detail in this house, from the smell of dirt you’d expect in an excavation site right down to the smell of powder in the Empress’ palace chambers.
Despite the simplicity of its concept, I liked Terrorcotta Empress for its lifelike sets that transported me back to ancient China. Added bonus: it’s one of the airier houses because the first half of it doesn’t actually have a roof!
Remember the phrase ‘Be careful what you wish for’? Hex takes that to a whole new literal level.
Built to simulate a witch doctor’s hut, the set at Hex is pretty intimate and dark, with creepy looking characters and dolls all around.
As someone who loves Literature, I was particularly cognizant of the depth of symbolism used in Hex. Each of the trinkets around the house, for example, represents a previous hex/curse that the Midnight Man had placed on someone in exchange for the soul of the requestor.
You’ll notice a different wish being inscribed on the wall at the entrance of each new room. Do take some time to read it, before you enter the room and see how the Midnight Man takes it word for word and twists it into something dark and terrible.
In this regard, this house had the most interesting backstory for me. That said, Hex is perhaps the spookiest house in HHN7.
Review of HHN7 Scare Zones
Happy Horror Days
True to its theme of Perversion, Happy Horror Days really took my favourite holidays and twisted them around. The usual suspects such as Christmas, New Year and Valentine’s Day were present and represented.
I quite liked the post-modern interpretations as well as the variety of holidays that this scare zone displayed (who knew World Clown Day was an actual thing?), and I must commend the scare actors for their improvisation while staying in character.
Case in point: right after I took a photo of the character above, I asked her what her name was, to which another scare actor replied, “You can’t have a name… when you’re dead!” Needless to say, I walked away with goosebumps all over.
Pilgrimage of Sin
I was advised by some HHN veterans that scare zones are a good way to recollect myself after coming out of a scary house, and Pilgrimage of Sin did not disappoint when I needed respite after Death Mall.
I enjoyed the theming (largely thanks to the brilliant performances put up by the scare actors) without being scared out of my wits. At one point, I even felt like I was part of a post-apocalyptic movie! Because Pilgrimage of Sin is more brightly lit than the houses, it also makes a good photo spot for you and your friends.
Review of HHN7 Live Shows
Slice of Life Tour
If I hadn’t attended a media Q&A session prior, I wouldn’t have known that the songs performed in the Slice of Life Tour were original K-Pop songs written specially for HHN7 – that’s how good they are.
I was also pretty amazed at the vocal prowess of the three Slit Face Girls – boy did they have pipes for days. Aside from a macabre plot twist that happens toward the end of the show, this one’s for those who really need to recollect themselves in the midst of all the Halloween Horror.
Show timings differ each night, so do refer to the showtime board on display at Hollywood Lagoon.
There are three Slice of Life songs available for download. You can get them here.
Think circus meets musical.
You are back in the dark ages where the plague reigns its terror over all of Europe. Dr White is engaged to find a cure, by any means necessary. And by that, you’ll get to see him applying weird treatments that border on the bizarre, sometimes comical.
Although this show doesn’t really have a scare factor to it, it’s a definite must-watch when you’re at HHN7. Expect humour, musical theatre and death-defying stunts that are sure to make your jaw drop. Midway through the show, I found myself cringing at the edge of my seat as the stunts performed became increasingly unexpected and extreme.
Show timings differ each night, so do refer to the showtime board on display outside Pantages Hollywood Theater.
Find out just what it takes to be a stunt performer at HHN here.
I never really understood why on earth people would pay to scare themselves. And while I did leave HHN7 slightly paranoid and hypersensitive to movement and sound for the rest of the night, I finally understood why people enjoy HHN so much – it really is an epic entertainment event that’s somehow fun even though you’re being scared out of your wits.
The best part about the experience? Having a good laugh at your friends’ different reactions (and vice versa) whenever one of you gets jump-scared – just like I did with my fellow writer Vivi in the video below.
GET TICKETS NOW TO SINGAPORE’S PREMIER SCARE EVENT
Universal Studios Singapore’s Halloween Horror Nights 7
Venue: Universal Studios Singapore
Date: 29 September to 29 October 2017 (14 selected nights only)
Time: Starts 7.30pm
Price: standard ticket on event nights at S$68
Keep your eyes peeled for regular updates on our various social media platforms. In the meantime, comment below to let us know what you’re looking most forward to at #HHN7, we want to know!
All things Universal Studios Singapore’s Halloween Horror Nights 7
HHN7 Official Website
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HHN7 Roadshows: Discounts, Scares & Freebies
Was there a SouthPoint Mall collapse in Singapore?
7 Instagram-able Food Items at HHN7
7 Horrifying Facts about the Making of HHN7
First Timer’s Review of HHN7
HHN7 App Game – play and win prizes
HHN7 Slice of Life Songs – free download
What does it take to be a stunt performer at HHN’s Live Shows? (NEW!)