There’s a new haunt in town, but you can’t take the kids! This one is for people who are looking for something a little bit more unhinging than the theme park haunts or local haunts that have sprung up all over SoCal for the Halloween season. On the scare meter, it sounds like it will probably be somewhere around the halfway point between a family friendly haunt and one of those extreme haunts, wherein the experience is borderline abusive. That is to say, it sounds like jolly good fun for seasoned haunt goers! Will Castillo is the heart and soul of this production, and prior to it’s opening today, OC Weekly chatted with him about Apartment 213.
OC Weekly (Scott Feinblatt): How did the haunt get started, and who was involved in putting it together?
Will Castillo: It’s pretty much all me. I’ve never done a haunted house like this before, but I’ve done a lot of different Halloween events; I’ve done, you know, your traditional maze, your typical jump (or “boo!”) scare; mazes for corporate companies, for corporate parties and stuff like that, but never something as immersive and as big as this.
What made you decide to do the haunt?
I’ve just been a Halloween and horror fan all my life, and I’ve been to a lot of these traditional mazes like Universal Horror Nights, Knott’s Scary Farm, the 17th Door, Sinister Pointe; I go to those yearly and then last year I decided I wanted to do this myself, so I’m in charge of the set design, the scriptwriting, the storyline, the marketing, the branding, everything…which is way too much, and I’ve learned my lesson, that I definitely need to get a team or, you know, do something like that for next time. But everything’s running smoothly as of now.
What is the relevance of the name Apartment 213?
213 is just a name I came up with for this haunted house. There isn’t really any real backstory to it besides how I came up with the name, which is apartment 213 is where Jeffrey Dahmer lived. [The haunt] isn’t Jeffrey Dahmer related; it is about an apartment of a family of psychopaths, and I was really interested in the psychology around what Jeffrey Dahmer did [not in the actual crimes], so that really caught my attention, and I researched a lot about that and how when they found out about it, how they had to tear down not only his unit, but also the whole building. 213 is also the area code for LA, which is where the haunt is at, and then, coincidentally, I also live in apartment 213.
Your haunt is billed as sort of halfway between an extreme haunt and something more family friendly, so I’m wondering how yours is going to compare with some of the other extreme haunts like Alone, Blackout, McKamey Manor, or Heretic…
I don’t want to say that it’s kid-friendly, because the haunt is 18+. And it’s kind of like a haunted house walkthrough; it starts with a apartment scene and then there’s bedroom scenes and different well-built scenes that the guests walk through, and again it’s not just like a quick walk through because the guests get split up, they interact with the actors, and there is light contact (unless [otherwise] requested). It’s definitely not just a quick walk through, but what I said in the little bio is that it’s kind of a hybrid between like a traditional haunted house maze and an extreme haunted house. We’re not doing anything too crazy to people, but there is, again, light contact and this and that.
There’s a lot of leeway in a statement like that. Can you elaborate on what kind of contact attendees can expect?
We don’t do the really [messed] up stuff, but we might hood people or tie people up with tape (nothing crazy or super tight). It’s not an extreme haunt like Heretic..It’s about a young girl named Emily that was kidnapped by a family of psychopaths, and you’re part of a search and rescue team that are led to this location in downtown LA, like to an alley, and you go downstairs and the experience begins when you meet a detective that’s there. Both of you then go to the house, and then all this stuff starts happening…You get separated [from your group] and taken to different rooms; we have very intimidating characters and actors; there’s yelling; there’s a little bit of humiliation; there’s all that stuff.
Are there there prosthetic effects and lighting designs?
There is set design. It looks like you’re exactly in a very creepy and dingy apartment room for one scene; there’s another scene where you’re in a bedroom, and the walls are covered with stuff. There’s some lighting, there’s some strobe effects…nothing like Horror Nights or one of those big company productions, but we do have a special effects person on site [who’s overseeing] the prosthetic masks we use, and this and that.
I noticed there’s no address listed for the haunt. What’s the situation there?
It’s a secret location; it’s in downtown LA, so people get e-mailed the address the morning of or the day before. They get instructions, a little bit of the backstory as well, then instructions on where to meet and to be there exactly at that time and, yeah…
For more details about the haunt and to purchase tickets, visit the Apartment 213 site.