Riverside house produces average haunting

The house was fun, but not scary enough that it lost its humor.

Grade: C+

Outside

Along Riverside Avenue, the Sigma Phi Epsilon house was lit up like a carved pumpkin, waiting to devour its victims.

The first challenge for my friend and myself was discovering how to get in. Luckily, a man wearing an oversized mask and carrying a chain saw came towards us.

"Hi," I said. "Do you know how to get inside the haunted house?"

He cocked his head toward a side door with motions kind of like a lost puppy dog.

"Thanks," I said.

The man followed us to the door, and he even turned his saw on -- minus the chain -- just for us.

Anticipation

"I don't know if I want to go," a teenage boy said to his friends. "I don't think we are going to be home on time."

As the boy led his group away, I saw the man with the chain saw step unmasked inside.

"How long of a wait is it?" I asked the woman taking my $5 admission fee.

"Oh, only about five minutes," she said.

Fifteen minutes later we were still in line watching "Scream" on a big screen television. The man with the chainsaw broke up the wait by chasing around a woman in line, cornering her and turning on his saw. When he left, the woman had tears in her eyes.

"I hate that mask," she said.

Five minutes later, a boy in line asked one of the doorkeepers how long it took to get through the haunted house.

"Ten to 15 minutes," she said, then paused. "It depends how scared you get, and how fast you run."

I couldn't help but smile at her wit.

Showtime

The time had come for us to tour the ghostly corridors. Deep down, I am a chicken, so my friend went first. We walked through dark makeshift hallways made up of black garbage bags. At first it was typical of a haunted house with strobe lights, people screaming, fake blood and knocking noises.

Our guide stopped midway though a path.

"Hold on a second," she said looking up. "I am going to make sure this light is working."

I will refrain from describing what happened next, but I'll say this much: it was scary, really scary. I screamed like a little girl. Somebody -- or something -- was breathing down my neck.

Boy, was I glad to get out of there. We walked through more scenes: a bedroom covered in blood, a sea of "Jason" masks and more strobe lights.

The chain saw man chased us around sporadically. I wasn't afraid of him, though. I couldn't quite get that puppy-dog-like head motion from earlier out of my head. The man just seemed friendly.

Frequently, the characters put their hands on us, almost predictably. I would rather have imagined these creatures about to tear into me instead of what they did in reality -- pat my arm.

Application

Overall, the haunted house was average. The house wasn't so scary to the point that it wasn't funny anymore, which makes the haunted house appropriate for both adults and older children.

The admission fee seemed high, but since all the money goes to charity, even that was appropriate. This haunted house probably won't give someone nightmares, but it has enough of a ghostly feel to get a person in the mood for Halloween.

If You Go:

What: Nightmare on Riverside

Who: Sponsored by Sigma Phi Epsilon and Alpha Omicron Pi

Where: Sigma Phi Epsilon House: 1515 W. Riverside Ave.

When: Tonight and Tuesday 8 p.m. - midnight; Wednesday 8 - 11 p.m.

Cost: $5 per person or $4 per person with a canned good. All proceeds will be given to the Muncie Big Brothers and Big Sisters and the Arthritis Foundation.


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