Welcome to our review of Halloween Horror Nights 27! In this review we will be focusing first on the scare zones, then the houses.
Overall, Horror Nights 27 presents a very strong lineup of houses! It is a great event that many will enjoy.
Trick r Treat: A
This zone is one of the best that we have seen at Horror Nights in recent years. Lately the Central Park zones have been dark, fairly lame, and overall not very exciting compared to other zones in the park; but Trick r Treat changes this. The Trick r Treat zone is spectacular due to the 1000’s of jack-o-lanterns that hang in the trees above you, the detailed sets that are straight from the film, and the amazing, high energy, scareactors. Throughout the night while walking through here we saw the team doing a great job with their scares! Overall it’s an awesome zone.
Not every zone has to be scary. Everyone was looking forward to this zone after that epic spaceship crash landed inside of Universal Studios Florida. This zone is in the San Francisco section of the park, which is normally home to the smallest zone every year. It’s themed around a 50’s sci-fi film, and they pulled it off very well. I loved the atmospheric lasers, and they will work great on a night when the wind isn’t blowing the fog away. The aliens look very retro, and they have some awesome military troops running around shouting about how we are being invaded. I give this zone a B+ because the set design is amazing, and the costumes are great too. The reason it is not being ranked as high as Trick r Treat is due to the size of it, which creates a clogged, and traffic filled mess of where the actors can barely move. This huge traffic jam causes a decreased amount of scares because the actors simply can not move around without squeezing through hordes of people.
On top of that, the costumes are so cool that guests want to take pictures with the aliens… which isn’t necessarily a bad thing- it just slows things down with scares and movement. We’ve seen this issue in all zones though, it’s just how the world is now with social media and wanting to post pictures. Unfortunately there really isn’t anything that can be done about it. It’s just a sign that the zone is really well done if so many people want to take photos of it.
Altars of Horror: N/A
I can’t give this zone a letter ranking yet as it felt very very incomplete. I want to wait until we are sure it’s done before ranking it. There’s a chance that they didn’t get to finish it because of Hurricane Irma. Last night they had zero set pieces on the street, some large signs on the side of the road, and a black set piece hanging above the zone. Reserving judgement until we see if they add more to it.
Festival of the Deadliest: N/A
We talked to some team members and they informed us that this zone isn’t done yet due to Hurricane Irma delays. So just like Altars I’m going to reserve judgement until it’s finished. From what I saw last night, it has some great potential and I’m looking forward to the final product! This zone is interesting because it features some awesome scares, and they incorporate dancers into the zone too. The dancers help portray the “festival” part of the theme, while the scary characters add to the “Deadliest” part of the name. We were also told that the unofficial icon of the event, “Bones”, is in this zone. So that means that this zone is the “icon” zone, like Chance’s zone last year. We have a picture of Bones below; he’s the character who is on the event logo. I wonder why they didn’t make him the official icon?
The Purge: B-
Universal has once again done a good job with the Purge. It’s very similar to the Purge zone from HHN 24, and that’s why we’re giving it a B-. The zone has some new mini shows this year inside of it, which we didn’t get the chance to see. Some of the set pieces and costumes are based off of the third Purge movie; these include cars that are covered with bright LED lights, and the light up masks. The zone has a truck driving around that captures “innocent bystanders”. We’ve seen this zone before. You can reuse an IP, but please don’t reuse the same exact school bus set and some of the same characters and tricks. We’ve already seen the school bus set, except last time it had a bad ass flame bar behind it. We’ve already seen the truck driving around and taking people. And we have already seen the Purge at Horror Nights quite a few times now between houses and zones. Will the Purge turn into the new “Walking Dead”? An IP that will never go away? If you’re going to bring back the same IP for a zone in the same exact section of the park, at least give us a whole different look and new major set pieces.
Scarecrow The Reaping: A
By far one, if not the best, house this season. One of Universal Orlando’s original houses this year, Scarecrow The Reaping puts you in the middle of an abandoned farmhouse with Scarecrow Guardians out for their prey. I would call this a mix of Tomb of the Ancients from HHN 26 and Unearthed at Howl O Scream. Very good scares in this one and tight, dark quarters. This was the most intense house of the night - good timing and energy from the scare actors.
The Shining: B
This house puts you right into the iconic film The Shining. As a fan of the movie, I honestly was expecting a lot more from this house and felt a bit let down. Lots of good nods to the film though and some cool effects throughout (so I bumped the rating up to a B). Set design was also on point. It just lacked scares overall, and the creepy vibe of the film was not adequately fleshed out in the house. Too many gimmicks and not enough live actors.
My least favorite of the night. Supposedly an original “vampire” house (or Nosferatu as they call them here), but more like a rip off of the television show The Strain. The Nosferatu creatures reminded me so much of the Strigoi on The Strain– biology as mirroring that of parasitic creatures as opposed to supernaturally immortal vampires of pop culture. Although the house had some occasional scares, it lacked them overall. I felt timing was also off in almost every room.
Dead Waters: A
This was one of the best themed houses I have seen in awhile at HHN Orlando. Another original house that was taken off a prior year HHN scare zone called Bayou of Blood. This is the first time a scare zone has been fleshed out into a house and I was very impressed with that they did. Although I think it’s equivalent, Death Water Bayou, works better at Howl O Scream, this house packs some really awesome creativity and fairly decent scares throughout. They should have given the Voodoo Queen some more time though- I felt her small room was rushed.
This house could have been at least a little better than their previous attempt at the Saw franchise at HHN. However, I thought it was pretty much the same thing. This house focused too much on the “torture device” scenes rather than putting you in the middle of the film. I didn’t find it too scary or unnerving (as the films are), except in a few scenes. It was just rather dull in my opinion.
The Horrors of Blumhouse: B
Another type of rehashed house, this one focused on three different Blumhouse films: The Purge, Insidious, and Sinister. However, it was mostly Insidious (which makes perfect sense since they had a full Insidious house previously at HHN). The only reason this house received a B is because the scare actors had good energy and worked their roles. As far as everything else, I found it completely recycled. Scenes from The Purge and Insidious were almost copies of previous houses (with a few variations). The house was also SUPER strobe heavy - to the point were it was almost too much - just be warned.
The Fallen: A
This was another original house this year and very well executed. This house puts you in the middle of hell, and it looks and feels like it every step of the way. Between the elaborate winged demon costumes and the huge set pieces, this was another one of my top houses. Look up too - some of the them do aerial movements! Plenty of good scares and timing with the scare actors.
American Horror Story Volume 2: B
AHS last year was my favorite house. Although this year is good, it is not close to being on par with HHN 26. This years focuses on Asylum, Coven, and regrettably, Roanoke. As a huge fan of the series, I appreciated the work they put into the Asylum and Coven scenes. They just seemed to lack that grandeur that last years house had. Still good, just not great. Then, you hit the Roanoke scenes, which are just as messy as the season was. I would have really liked to give this house an A, but it just didn’t live up to it this year.
Ash vs. The Evil Dead: B
I want to preface by saying I have never seen this television show, so I was a little in the dark going through this. This was more a “fun” type of house than being scary. Reminded me a lot of Demon Cantina back at HHN 15 - fun, whimsical, and all over the place with gimmicks and visuals. I did really enjoy it though…lots of blood and guts 🙂