End of the world horror house offers scares about environmental concerns

2012_10_22_Haunted_House_Ricky

Ricky Llamas

Ecopocalypse is a horror attraction that envisions a future where healthy food and clean water have depleted, driving people to their primal instincts.

Eli Watson

Toothless, grimy faces peer through dark corners. They mumble under their breath and shortly after release a maniacal, Joker-like laugh that echoes throughout long and silent hallways. These people are not chainsaw-wielding serial killers. They are survivors of a post-apocalyptic world where only the fittest and most cutthroat will survive.

Ecopocalypse haunted house creates a dark and futuristic dystopia for its customers. In its imagined future, resources are finite and in order to survive people must dispose of their ethics, and give into their primal instincts.

“What happens when civilization collapses? When healthy food runs out and we lose access to clean water?” Ecopocalypse co-creator Peter Kirby asked. “This is what Ecopocalypse is all about.”

Inspired by their experiences at HAuNTcon ­— a haunted house trade show in Pittsburgh — earlier this year, Kirby and Ecopocalypse co-creator Matt Sparks were determined to create something that was refreshing and thought-provoking. Ecopocalypse maintains the aesthetic of a conventional haunted house, using bloodied props and goth-like cult leaders, but loosely uses the issue of sustainability to separate itself from its contemporaries.

Although not entirely based on scientific research, Kirby and Sparks hope the haunted house will make visitors more conscious of the state of the earth.

“Each haunted house we visited during HAuNTcon showed us what to do, and what not to do with Ecopocalypse,” Kirby said. “No 13-year-olds in masks or machete serial killers waiting in a corner. Just a realistic experience that hopefully gets attendees thinking.”

First-time actor James Goolsby, who has helped direct films in the past, plays “The Berserker,” a man who tears people apart and eats them.

But The Berserker is only one of many scary surprises featured in Ecopocalypse. From an unkempt survivor offering visitors kitty cobbler, to The Labyrinth — a room littered with pictures of those dead and gone — the haunted house does an impressive job of grabbing attendees’ attention and never letting go.

Once customers make their way through the haunted house they can purchase locally-based food and drinks at “Foodtopia.” That is if they have not lost their appetite by the end of the journey. 

“I screamed so much,” Austin resident Courtney Kimble said. “The actors were uber, uber creepy, and I got lost multiple times.”

However, not everyone was impressed by Ecopocalypse’s tactics. Austin resident John Landers thought the experience was too short, and redundant.

Regardless of the praise or criticism, Kirby hopes to bring Ecopocalypse back another year.

“We’re not trying to be preachy or tell people they need to be environmentalists,” Kirby said. “If they take something away from this experience and want to change their ways, then cool. But if not at least they experienced what Ecopocalypse has to offer.”

Printed on Monday, October 22, 2012 as: It's the end of the world as we know it: Haunted house aims to make visitors think about environment