Netherworld Haunted House impressively captures the atmosphere of Halloween with its striking set designs and exceptional costume creations. Looking for a truly frightening experience as October comes to a close, Netherworld was just the place for me to find thrills.

The tour is divided into two separate parts: the Banshee and the Hive. The Banshee is the primary haunted house, while the Hive is additional. Inside the Banshee is where customers get the real bang, or boo, for their buck. It was refreshingly scary and oddly enjoyable to see even the most hard-core haunted house veterans jump out of their socks when an eerily dressed ghoul or ghost reaches an arm out from behind a curtain – thought to be a solid wall – and reaches for their shoulder. Although the actors are not allowed to actually touch the guests, they certainly come close.  At times, I was absolutely certain that a man standing in a corner was a mannequin and lowered my guard, and then felt a presence eerily close behind me.

The most impressive aspect of Netherworld is Netherworld itself. The set is beautifully created and is completely believable with intense textures, motions and lights. The walls feel like the inside of a cave when they need to, or old wood from a creaking haunted house depending on what room you are in, and seemed really believable. The only thing unrealistic about the tour was the smell. Headless bats and Cthulhu do not exactly smell like latex and paint. But, unlike classic horror films, there are no zippers and the chainsaws are real, so it was easy for me to ignore the smells and let the fear in.

In comparison to the Banshee, the Hive is weak. It is only about a 15-minute walkthrough compared to the hour-long Banshee, and it is nowhere near as horrifying. The most entertaining piece is the creepy crawlies that roam free inside of the Hive. Even this, however, could have been more frightening had the actors at the entrance of the Hive not given the secret. I found myself looking for them the entire time, and everything else in the Hive just felt unnecessary.

The Banshee makes up for the shortcomings of the Hive. Walking through the Hive feels like walking through an experimental haunted house, while walking through the Banshee is like living in a nightmare. However, there is another catch to the wonder that is the frightening Banshee. Although both haunted houses are remarkably well-crafted, waiting in either line is nearly unbearable, even though costumed creatures walk around and try to scare the most unsuspecting individuals; it was easy to lose interest. Also, the constant yells that were intended to be startling backdrops to the intense tour were only that for the first 15 minutes, and after that they became annoying.  Performers dressed in poorly-designed monster outfits put on a live concert with a professionally-hired DJ while you wait in line.

However, the concert and the actors running around the lines felt like bad attempts at distracting me from how long the lines actually were, and the constant Banshee screams grew from annoying to nauseating the longer the line went on. By the time I got inside the haunted house, I was too tired to fully enjoy the ride.  Even the actors roaming the lines are mere whistle-wetters at best. The real thrill comes from inside the haunted houses, and after about three hours of waiting in the lines collectively for both haunted houses, and only an hour and a half of being in the tour, Netherworld lost a lot of its edge.

Both the Banshee and the Hive have creatively written back stories, which can be summed up, according to the Netherworld website, as thus: an evil has been released from the underworld and it now bridges the gap between our world and theirs, thus creating a Netherworld where the boundaries of both worlds begin to fade. However, unless visitors looked at the Netherworld website beforehand, there was no indication any time during the tour about this story line.

So, if you plan on taking a trip to Netherworld any time from now until Friday: buy your tickets online, go early on a week night, and bring a scary movie on your iPhone to get you through the wait in line but keep you in the horror mood. The haunted house itself is, in fact, worth the wait.

– By Riakeem Kelley