It is the seasons of frights, ladies and gentlemen, and nothing says Halloween more than paying someone to scare you to bits. Having grown up in Columbus, I got my start doing haunted attractions there, and it’s because of that I will always be grateful. That also means it takes a lot to impress me here and I will be a hard one to scare. Carnage swiftly managed both of these things, and I enjoyed it so much I came back for seconds.
Founded in Columbus Ohio by Jason McCollum, Mike Roskuski, and Mia Riedmiller, Carnage Haunted House began in 2017 and has swiftly made its mark on the city. Located in a large warehouse on the south side, you will find 30 hyper-detailed rooms guaranteed to thrill you. It also screens horror movies outside while you wait to enter your doom, and features a “Gore-mey” Food Shack, Zombie Shoot and even live music and food trucks on select nights. Carnage was recently named in the Top 10 Haunts in Ohio by The Scare Factory, as well as being the only haunt in Columbus to be named in it as well.
After not being able to attend the first year’s event, I was quite intrigued to visit this fresh, new attraction. The only other large haunts in the area were The 13th Floor, formerly The Scaratorium, and the long-term favorite, The Haunted Hoochie. Both have become pretty much staples for the season, and it was time for a new face to pop up on the scene. As we approached the somewhat unassuming street view the first time FGN visited, we were met with a pretty unassuming facade – since then, much more outside decoration has appeared. When I returned two weeks later, there were plenty of gorgeous signs and wacky, inflatable, arm-flailing tube men to be had.
The first night of a haunted attraction can be a little slow, even at giants like Knott’s Scary Farm. That is why I got to enjoy my evening milling about, taking in the props and characters roaming the haunt. Let’s just say that if you see the skeleton-spilling hearse sitting out front, you’ve come to the right place. Cosplay group Columbus Ghostbusters even stop by to visit and throw their brightly colored Ecto-Mobile into the array of LED-laced cars and zombie tactical vehicles that are featured every night to add to the scenery. I made myself comfortable and took in the film of the evening being screened – The Dead Zone from 1983, a deep cut that was much appreciated – when I got my first scare of the night. Kudos to the “Rossum” creature, created by makeup effects artist Scott Sliger, for creeping up on me. And to anyone who encounters this Rat-Possum running around if you visit, a word to the wise: if he touches you, I would check on you rabies status.
Finally, I threw myself into the fray of Carnage. After a brief introduction of the rules I then entered what become a half-hour of heart-pounding terror. 30 rooms in all, there is no letting up on the tension to the point you don’t even realize you’re screaming. I was babbling apologies to each performer by the 4th room, and I later discovered I became slightly famous in the haunt as the girl who screamed “I DON’T APPRECIATE THIS” when I got bum-rushed by a clown. I forgot entirely about their easter egg game halfway in, which I still regret. Unlike any other haunt I’ve seen, Carnage has planted a movie-themed easter egg in each room of their attraction. They aren’t all necessarily horror films, either, which adds to the difficulty. A complete list is available in the gift shop at the end of the maze to check with your friends, but I promise you, you won’t be able to find half of them.
What made Carnage so enjoyable for me, who is pretty numb to most haunted attractions, was the pace of everything. At no point was I ever taken out of the experience to realize, ‘oh, it’s been awhile since I’ve gotten scared.’ Another jump was near, even if it was something as simple as a quick puff of air in my face, to keep me on my toes. The practical effects and props were incredible in detail and quality, making it difficult to separate fake from real. Many rooms held dummies and actors, both still as statues until the right moment. You’re so wrapped up in trying to figure out who might come at you from where that you forgot to look behind you, and then it’s far too late. Keeping the action moving is paramount in a haunt like this, and Carnage slays by comparison.
All the performers are committed to their scene, and add to the pace with their stalking threats and grim humor. MVP’s would definitely go to the clown that made me a star, and the creepy child who wanted us to stay in her bedroom forever. And huge props to the doctor and patient who introduced us to the clinic – I’m glad I have insurance right now.
You’ll see stomachs with teeth, telekinetic kitchens and swirling tunnels. You’ll wade through the swamp, and be sure to check for what’s under the bed. Creepy dolls, live scalpings, living mannequins and witch doctors. It’s all there, waiting for you, to rain Carnage on you all.
Carnage is open through October 31st. For information on hours and tickets, please visit www.carnagehauntedhouse.com