For quite a few years I've been saying how someone should
build a horror attraction in my home town of Brighton. With a large number
of visitors of the right age it seemed like a nice gap in the market to
fill. When I finally heard the news of Fear Brighton
opening it was obviously a source of excitement.
Reviewing a year round scare attraction brings back some of the dilemmas I
had when I reviewed the now defunct Pasaje Del Terror at the London
Trocadero. The questions I asked were should a live action horror maze even
be in the scenic ride charts, and does it deserve a top spot when I've been
on several better (non permanent) examples of the genre.
Both attractions abilities to dominate the charts I think
says more about how dark rides in the UK are a little on the weak side,
rather than a huge unfair advantage. You don't have to go to Disney to find
lots of family rides in Europe that would hold their own against these rides
in the charts.
As for Fear Brighton being undeserving of accolade, that's a total non
issue, this ranks up there as one of the best horror attractions I've done.
For starters you've got good maze design. I'm reminded a little of Nemesis,
where it's said the restrictions when designing it created a better ride.
They had a limited space to design the maze, and this has resulted in a much
scarier experience. For starters there is a much more claustrophobic
atmosphere with narrow corridors throughout. There's no reassuring gap
between you and any potential scares here, it's all up close and personal.
The confined space also results in a twisted and confusing layout. This
combined with numerous curtains obstructing your view mean you never know
what's coming, and there were even points where I found myself genuinely not
knowing what to do, which considering the amount of experience I have
leading groups around these mazes is saying something.
The credit can't all go to the layout design though, a lot has to go to the
actors. They are up there with some of the best I've encountered They rely
surprisingly little on sudden shock scares and the usual grunts and growls.
Instead they portray a group of haunting and twisted characters. This goes a
long way to creating an atmosphere scarier than the bogeyman jumping out the
closet scares would create.
The final important ingredient is the theming, and the tone it sets. For
starters it's all of a good quality, but the real coup de gra for the
theming and the whole attraction is how it builds up the tension. On
practically every other horror maze I've done the tone has been set in the
first minute or two, and has maintained it to either the end of the ride, or
at least until the finally. This means on even the freakier mazes your mind
gets a chance to settle. Here the tone changes, it starts out scary, but
maintains a bit of a comedy aspect, but as it goes on things gradually get
more intense and scary. This means you can never completely settle, keeping
you on edge throughout.
Are there any flaws then? Well maybe there are one or two points that need
some tweaks to achieve perfection, but the overall quality is so high these
issues barely warrant a mention. This easily ranks as one of the best and
scariest of all the horror mazes I've done. This being a local attraction
for me I'm likely to do this one many times in the future, but even for
horror attraction fans for further afield this is a must do.