Review: Dark Manor, Baltic CT (3.5 stars)
Last year, the team from Events INSIDER went on a 10-day Halloween blitz! In October 2013, I visited 28 attractions to bring you reviews and information on everything Halloween in New England. We went indoors and outdoors as far north as New Hampshire, as far south as Rhode Island, and as far west as Connecticut. Don’t forget to visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where we list more creative October events than anyplace else!
Dark Manor is the most impressive low budget horror destination I have seen. Because it’s located in a remote corner of Connecticut, our expectations were low. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised! Owner Rick Peirce told us that the event is for-profit, but they give money to St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital. It’s an indoor attraction that leads you outdoors and then back indoors again. It’s a good 20 minutes long.
The strength of Dark Manor is its homemade effects. It has tons of animatronics that are special built, not purchased, so they can be used in location-specific, scene-specific ways. I loved the swing with the headless kids, and the bookcases and tables that spill over (even though the bookcases came close to hitting my head). Using mirrors they’ve created two endless tunnels: one with bookcases and one an infinite descent into hell. We were impressed by the scorpion animatronic effect, although the green laser could have been used more effectively with fog to create a spooky plane or cone.
Unfortunately, the location had weaknesses as well. The set design was a bit random, rather than thematic, and would benefit from someone with theatre experience. Most of the actors just screamed, rather than having a role to portray, but kudos to the little girl with the walker who just stared at us silently and malevolently. Yikes! The trail contained some filler sections that didn’t add much, such as a long cage section, and a few random scenes (a clothes closet with t-shirts, a garden shed) that were perhaps outside the horror category.
I came very close to giving this attraction 4 stars, but without a high production “wow” (no hay ride, no giant animatronics, no vortex) and with just 20 minutes of path, that would have been unfair to competitive attractions that have more effects and more length. Still I am left awed by what is clearly a spectacular accomplishment on a low budget! While you may not want to drive specially to Dark Manor, its creative, unique special effects and chutzpah make it a must see attraction if you are in the area.
This review was from Events INSIDER’s 2013 10-day Halloween blitz, where we visited 28 attractions across New England. Visit http://EventsINSIDER.com, where you’ll find more fun Halloween and October events than anywhere else!