Terrifying Halloween attractions are nothing new—haunted houses (the fun kind) date to 1969, when Disneyland opened its Haunted Mansion. But evolution was inevitable. Whether it’s a morbid virtual reality experience or an hours-long theatrical immersion, high-concept horror is having a moment. We ranked L.A.’s most chilling productions, from spine-tingling to psychotic. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Fear factor: Unnerved
The old stalwart is good for being chased by your run-of-the-mill chain-saw-wielding maniacs. Visitors are herded onto hayracks and pulled through live-action scenes (said maniacs might breathe down your neck, but they won’t touch you). The theme of this year’s extra-scary update is—shudder—clowns. September 29-October 31
Fear factor: Rattled
Death portraits, weird porcelain dolls, repressed sexuality—the Victorian era was a lot of bad news. Return to the 19th century and enter the world of the occult-obsessed Black family through a film, a virtual reality trip, and a solo (yes, solo) tour of their mansion (billed as “The House of the Devil”) during this eerie new adventure. October 6-31
Fear factor: Disturbed
JFI Productions has earned a rep for creating some of the city’s more highbrow haunts. (Its crew of actors and directors is the same one that brought you Creep LA.) This year they’ve cooked up Lore, a spooky interactive experience based on a popular podcast. Soon to become an Amazon series, Lore’s slow-burning scares are based on the real-life events that inspired iconic horror tropes. October 5-November 12
Fear factor: Shook
Darren Bousman made haunt history last year with the Tension Experience, a nine-month, cult-themed alternate reality game that culminated in a two-hour immersion during the Halloween season. This year’s sequel, the Lust Experience, explores what Bousman calls the “nefarious” and “macabre” sides of desire. Ongoing; see website for dates.
Fear Factor: WTF
A famously brutal to-do, Heretic isn’t about that Halloween-lite life. (It’s not really about Halloween at all, actually, because it stages events year-round.) Guests must sign a waiver before entering; nudity, emotional trauma, and graphic violence are often part of the sadistic setup. Expect zero chill from this month’s production, called DEVIL. October 19-20