By Olivia Polony
Haunted house season is officially underway, and this past weekend I got to explore some of the spookiest options around Chicago. For me, there is nothing like the thrill of waiting in line on cool fall evenings, wrapped in an oversized sweater and huddled close to your friends as you stand nervous yet excited for what lies ahead. Here are three haunts you should visit before October is up.
House of Torment
8240 Austin Ave. in Morton Grove, IL
Located out in the quiet suburbs, this attraction is housed inside a large warehouse complex. Parking was easy enough to find and the wait, though long, was entertaining with a large TV displaying horror movie trivia and costumed actors sneaking up on unsuspecting teenagers and photo bombing selfie-takers. Once at the front of the line, we were quickly briefed on all the rules as well as the “zombie outbreak” that threatened our safety. There were two houses — one was set in a post-apocalyptic Chicago and the other inside a ghoulish high school.
I was immediately impressed by the set design and detailed scenery. One room, in particular, that gave me the shivers was filled with a vast collection of antiques and old-looking collectibles. Many rooms felt cluttered like you were in the home of an extreme hoarder. The paths we had to navigate also caught me off guard with quick turns, slanted floors, strobe lights and fog. I even got lost at one point in a room where the lights flicker on and off as zombies slowly approach you.
There are many references to Chicago throughout the house, the most obvious being the part where you get on the red line L stop as monsters come out from all sides and shake the train. Be prepared to run at the end, so don’t forget your gym shoes!
Complete with an eerie churchyard, cemetery, dark castle-like rooms and narrow passageways, this facility is a feast for the senses.
13th Floor Haunted House
1940 George St. in Melrose Park, IL
This is the sister haunt to House of Torment and, like its counterpart, also has a big-budget eye for detail. If you have already been to House of Torment, then you know to set your standards high. Each room, from floor to ceiling, is like walking into a scene in a Hollywood horror movie. Complete with an eerie churchyard, cemetery, dark castle-like rooms and narrow passageways, this facility is a feast for the senses.
Parking is easy to find — as well as free — with many people choosing to park at a nearby grocery store. The house itself is expansive, filling up an entire warehouse that looms over you as you approach. Just as House of Torment provides scare-filled entertainment for those in line, 13th Floor also has actors running around for you to interact with.
Statesville Haunted Prison
17250 Weber Road in Crest Hill, IL
From start to finish, Statesville Haunted Prison is an immersive experience. My brother described it as “cinematic.” Everything from the acting, costumes and set design to the lines and crowd-control tactics, is carefully coordinated and thought out. The house takes advantage of state-of-the-art technology to create life-like ghouls and monsters that pop up out of nowhere and sneak around corners.
As the name itself evinces, the setting is in a prison, where hardened and dangerous criminals freely roam the halls. You enter in large groups and are treated like prisoners throughout the entire walk-through. There were many physical impediments such as pitch-black rooms, foggy corners and sliding sandbag dummies that disguise the real monsters.
Besides just simply scaring you, actors are extremely interactive at times, making you feel truly uncomfortable by breaking personal barriers and asking you to participate in competitions where the loser has to walk in first!