Gloucester beware, you're in for a scare!
PUBLISHED: 19:18 21 October 2014 | UPDATED: 10:42 23 October 2014
There is certainly something unnerving about walking in the dark towards the sound of people screaming. Thankfully, I had a reasonable idea of what I was letting myself in for. Frightmare!
The undead lumbering across the fields of Gloucestershire… Screams from poor, pale-faced locals echoing across the night… No, this isn’t a follow-up to Shaun of the Dead – although Gloucester’s very own Simon Pegg might appreciate the similar brand of home-grown horror.
This is Frightmare at Over Farm.
Frightmare has become an annual event in the South West, this being its 13th year. Running from October 18 – November 1, it’s a Halloween festival that offers something a little different.
Within the various buildings of Over Farm, actors in spooky guises populate the scene and interact with punters whilst they queue for the four main attractions – the Haunted Hayride, PANIC! Final CUT, Séance and Fright House: Second Storey.
The Haunted Hayride
The Haunted Hayride is a terrifyingly bumpy lift on a tractor-driven stagecoach around the farm, overseen by a few nasty characters intent on chopping you up. Think Sweeney Todd and Mrs Lovett if they’d been born and raised in The Forest of Dean.
This isn’t purely a vehicular ramble through the eerie darkness, as you are shepherded off into a building to be ‘dealt with’ by some grizzly customers…
PANIC! Final CUT
PANIC! Final CUT, by contrast, is an entirely indoor attraction. You wind through claustrophobic corridors and rooms, accosted by actors in the guise of disturbed patients. As the name suggests, this attraction is designed to set your heart racing. Strobe lighting adds to the disorientation and it can be quite easy to find yourself stuck between two menacing figures considering how to best cook you for dinner.
Séance is a short commune with the spirits, hosted by a medium named Ophelia. Perhaps Over Farm was built on an ancient burial ground, because once gathered at the round table, it doesn’t take long before supernatural forces start meddling.
Fright House: Second Storey
And finally, Fright House: Second Storey; an unguided tour around a haunted homestead. You are given the ‘house-rules’ by a girl who looks like Wednesday Addams, and are then left to wander the rooms of the mock-farmhouse alone. Similar to PANIC! Final CUT, this is an attraction that will make you squirm and jump as you quickly discover the inhabitants aren’t quite as jovial as Uncle Fester; one said he was saving his coffin just for me – another wanted us to play with her dolly (which, in the context of a blood spattered haunted house, doesn’t seem quite so endearing).
We came away from Frightmare with a real sense of the effort involved. The actors, the props, the sets – this nightmarish spectacle is clearly a labour of love, and the night was as fun as it was frightening.
Not all the attractions are created equal. Whilst PANIC! Final CUT was the closest thing to being in the midst of a horror movie, Séance didn’t quite reach the climax it promised to; we weren’t expecting Poltergeist’s haunted bedroom scene – just something a little more.
However, we left on an adrenaline high that could only have been a result of the Frightmare team doing their job. Compared to spending another Halloween drunkenly dancing along to Monster Mash at a thrown-together excuse of a party, Frightmare is easily a superior proposition.
The dead have risen! The once-underground are Over-bound! And if you’re looking for something a little different this Halloween, you might want to join them.
For more about Frightmare, visit: www.frightmare.co.uk