A first look at 'House of the Fury,' Raleigh's first immersive haunted house

ByKaylee Merchak WTVD logo
Thursday, October 26, 2017
"House of the Fury," Raleigh's first immersive haunted house, opens Friday, October 26
"House of the Fury," Raleigh's first immersive haunted house, opens Friday, October 26
images-Credit: "House of the Fury"

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- When director Beau Clark started to dream up the concept of House of the Fury six months ago, he wanted to give his visitors a haunted-house experience that was unlike any other that they'd seen before - and that's exactly what he did.

House of the Fury is not your average haunted house - it's an immersive theatre experience, meaning the audience plays a role in the show.

While Raleigh has held some immersive and interactive haunted trails or night walks, this is the first immersive haunted house within city limits, Clark said.

HOF is a haunted house experience that is written and directive in narrative form in that it tells a story that the audience is a part of and ultimately, decides the direction.

In every room, there's a choice that the audience has to make and that choice will impact what happens next - ergo the story as a whole.

Clark teamed up with local playwright Libby Heily to create the story which calls upon the Furies - the female chthonic deities of vengeance in Greek mythology.

But what's probably the most twisted idea is that all audience members are required to wear a mask and are not allowed to speak.

"It's not just a jump-out-and-say-'boo' sort of haunted-house experience," Clark said. "I'm asking a lot of my actors and they have to really dig in deep for some really difficult scenes, and people tend to respond to fear in two ways: either they start being a jerk or start trying to make jokes; neither of which would be appropriate in this particular setting, and it would really diminish the audience experience.

One of the first choices a visitor makes is their mask. If they select a gold or bronze color, they allow themselves to submit to the full experience which allows actors to fully interact with them.

If black or white are selected, those patrons become what Clark calls "shadows," who merely observe and experience the show.

Needless to say, ABC11 web producer, Kaylee Merchak, selected the full immersive experience.

WTVD web producer, Kaylee Merchak, waiting to go inside "House of Fury"
WTVD/Kaylee Merchak

What adds to the creepy ordeal is not only the psychologically challenging choices a person has to make but the way the actors interact.

HOF's 17 actors are trained to handle how visitors react and quickly add that into the flow of the show.

One might be thinking, "If I'm wearing a mask, how can I answer them or interact with them?" Don't worry, Clark said that his actors will get the answers they need or they'll force them out.

After living in New York for so long, Clark said it was hard not to tailor the show for a Brooklyn audience.

But he said he wasn't surprised when many compared his show to Emursive's Sleep No More - an immersive show which is an adaptation of Shakespeare's Macbeth told through a film-noir lens.

"At first, I was really reluctant to embrace that because I don't want to give people the wrong idea, because if they come expecting Sleep No More, they're going to get more haunted house; and if they come expecting a haunted house, they're going to get more Sleep No More," Clark explained. "I happened to be in New York last month, and I went ahead and saw Sleep No More; I'm OK with that comparison now."

HOF is definitely not the average haunted house, meaning patrons won't see Freddy or Jason and won't be chased with a chainsaw.

RELATED: Top 5 area haunted houses you need to visit this Halloween

But what it offers is something even scarier and psychologically distressing.

"We're intentionally trying to avoid the phobias," Clark said. "We have no clowns, no tight spaces ... we have very few, if any, what qualifies as jump scares. What we do have is putting people into psychologically distressing situations where they're presented with really difficult choices and then sometimes presented with the ramifications of those choices."

This is the first scene you'll see when you enter "House of the Fury"
WTVD/Kaylee Merchak

And he's right, by decision two, guests are already feeling guilt and pressure.

But Clark said it's all part of the experience because they want to make the audience complicit in what happens.

"It's not like you're watching a murderer kill people and you're just an innocent bystander, you're presented with choices that make you culpable ... to some people that makes it far more scary than a guy with a chainsaw running behind you. You did this ..."

For Clark, it's about offering everyone an experience to remember.

"I always said from the beginning, 'If we don't leave Johnny Skateboarder from Apex High School saying, 'That was totally awesome,' we failed at our job. We also have to make sure that Byron the critic comes in and says, 'That was a viable piece of art ... My dream is for theatergoers and non-theatergoers to have an experience that they remember."

The show opens Friday, and because of harsh language and violent scenes, viewer discretion is advised.

Tickets are available for purchase online and run $25 each.