Last night, on a grim, rainy evening, myself and a few other brave souls again delved into the horrors hiding underneath the normally placid facade of Northeast Minneapolis.
In order to prepare and fortify ourselves, we met up for a few beers at the Bulldog NE before making the short trek to the Soap Factory, where we were set to once again descend into the depths of madness and experience the Haunted Basement.
After braving the the Soap Factory’s acclaimed artistic haunted house last year, I was eager to try it again. Every year is different, so you really do not know what to expect as you are lead down the stairs into the pitch blackness of the maze. I will not say any more, as you should experience the Basement for yourselves. One word of advice, though. If you are interested in going, choose a night and a time and purchase tickets well ahead of time; like, weeks ahead of time. They sell out quickly, and seem only to be getting more and more popular. There are still a few tickets left, though and it is well worth it!
As we waited to enter the maze, the ambiance and mood was enhanced by the hilariously gross, grotesque taxidermied animal sculptures, and the mysterious bangs and shouts began to filter up from below. The exploration would soon begin.
As I mentioned last year, I, myself, tend to be rather squeamish and easily disturbed, but I have found the Haunted Basement to be an awesome, overwhelming ordeal to go through. In my experiences these couple of years, the horror is not one of gruesome, violent scenes but rather psychological. After you get all psyched up by the reputation and ambiance, you are then confronted by a whirling, confusing labyrinth of situations.
I think the true terror of the Haunted Basement, and what the designers are going for, is an attack on the typical Minnesotan cultural tendency against confrontation and the physical closeness of strangers. They do not respect space or boundaries, social or physical. The actors will touch you. They will get up in your grill. Cramped, disorientating environs and odd smells will accost you as you stumble through , unnerving and eerie scene to the next, never knowing what to expect.
You will hear, and experience, screams, shrieks, and bouts of uncontrollable, uncomfortable laughter. This is what many of us Minnesotans dread; close, unpredictable encounters with strangers who invade your personal bubble and demand things of you you are not sure how to give. They are not logical and they don’t play by the rules of daily life. Some visitors freeze up, some grin weirdly, some try to take things in stride, and some simply cannot take this assault on their senses and cry “uncle,” escaping back to the light and fresh air of the surface. Some relish the opportunity to push their boundaries through forced interactions. In any case, it is an experience I would recommend!