Apartment 213 – Get Immersed with a Family of Cannibalistic Rednecks
I missed Apartment 213’s immersive haunt when I went to Scare LA and was very excited to find out they were having a two-day pop-up experience in September. I hurried to Facebook to see if I could be squeezed in. Will, the owner/creator of Apartment 213, was super friendly and gracious and got me and a guest into their first showing.
Choose your scare levels
Apartment 213 offers two tiers of participation: Guests, which means little to no contact, and Extreme Guests, which means full contact. No stranger to immersive theater/haunts, I opted for the Extreme Guest experience. Meeting at an address downtown, our group of seven participants waited for our allotted time, nervously wondering what was to come. Will greeted us, handed out waivers, answered any questions we had and led us to an empty warehouse, where our experience would begin…
Heading down a dank stairwell, we were greeted (although yelled at would be more accurate) by an angry man holding a fire extinguisher. He hurried us down to the landing and instructed us to put black sacks over our heads. This could definitely be a trigger for some people, and, case in point, two of our fellow participants decided it was too intense for them and left. The remaining five of us had our hands tied behind our backs and were led into the dark unknown.
A family of cannibalistic rednecks lives in Apartment 213, and when the daughter brings home some guests, the rest of the family is NOT HAPPY. The guests have seen too much and need to be disposed of. But how? Moving the guests from room to room, the family argued over what to do with the unwanted nuisances. Should they be water-boarded? Beaten with a chain? Suffocated beneath a heavy board? Either way, the guests should make for a tasty feast.
The experience focused on verbally degrading triggers over images or the grotesque. Yes, there were bloody beds involved and a Gollum-like person with a chain, but nothing particularly uncanny or unsettling (at least for me and my friend). We were definitely touched/moved around, sometimes roughly, but no one was hurt. The non-Extreme Guests huddled to the sides and watched as the Extreme Guests were engaged in demeaning behavior.
These experiences are meant to stir things up in participants, to push them out of their comfort zones and feel something. It’s also somewhat cathartic to not have to be in control, to be in the moment and allow things to happen. I understand that these kinds of things can be scary for some people, but for me, there tends to be a calming effect that happens. I don’t have to think of the laundry list of chores I have to do. I don’t know where I’m going, but I also know I’m safe, these actors won’t actually hurt me. I follow their lead and forget life for a little while.
Getting to the point
Overall, I think the experience could have been more intense. I felt like there was some waiting as the actors’ storyline got lost in the improv. Having a bag over our heads for a while didn’t allow us to see the potentially horrific things that were going to happen to us. And the ending could have been stronger. It was abrupt and confusing in terms of the plot. We were unceremoniously dumped where we started and untied, wondering if it was over.
I think Will and his team did a lot with the space, especially for a two-night pop-up event. The actors were strong and stayed in character, other than a few lulls in the action. I would encourage anyone that is unfamiliar with immersive haunts to try out the non-Extreme Guest option when Apartment 213 comes back in October. I am looking forward to how Apartment 213 comes together in their full show, allowing more time for design and concept. October can’t come quickly enough!