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Making a haunted house

As kids get older, they get less interested in trick or treating, and you need new ideas to keep them entertained. Maybe you’re feeling like you have to up your game to maintain your reputation as the coolest Halloween house on the block. Or, maybe you just enjoy the screams of children. Whatever the reason, we’re here to help you create a truly terrifying haunted house.

You can go as spooky as you want, but there are some really cool ways to scare people using the space in your (typically) beautiful house, especially if you have a lot of space. But, you can create the best effect if you use both the outside and the inside to create some real drama.

haunted house circle image

Make it a story

First and foremost, think of the haunted house as a story with a clear beginning and end. Set up a path for the participants to follow and allow the scares to follow an arc – jump scares, horror scares, tension-building – you need all of it and it needs to be paced appropriately. You can use the yard, the garage and the house to create a truly terrifying experience. But, it’s best if you have a route clearly planned and laid out for the willing victims – I MEAN EXCITED PARTICIPANTS – to follow. If possible, have a separate entrance and exit.

Use a fog machine

Use a fog machine to set up a spooky scene on the walk up to the house. You could also create a graveyard scene on the path up to the door, for instance, using foam tombstones, and perhaps a skeleton or zombie crawling out to rejoin the living. Whatever you decide, the mantra to keep in the forefront of you mind is: when in doubt, add fog.

Use the power of holograms

Use the power of holograms. No, we’re not talking about having Prince perform as a hologram. Instead, follow these tips and tricks to create scary, lifelike images that will haunt your neighbour’s dreams. You can find some truly terrifying animations to project here. Imagine walking by a window and having a haunted face appear in the window at the same time as a scream? Horrifying.

Use the right lighting

You don’t want things too bright or too dark for an effective haunted house. You can also use different colours – like purple, red and dark green – to cast a scary glow at different points of the haunted adventure. Periodically, having your guests thrown into complete darkness can also be effective, as long as it is timed correctly.

Create movement

Either have someone lying in wait to surprise your Halloween guests, or use more advanced electronics to have things jump out and scare people. This is the bread and butter of the scary experience and should be used sparingly. It works best when paired with distraction – have the participants looking at something else before startling them. Or scare them once, have them think it’s over, and go for an even bigger surprise.

Create spooky sounds

Soft, creepy music that plays throughout your space, with audios of chainsaws or screaming punctuating the sound is a great way to go. Used correctly, children singing nursery rhymes in a minor key or even slow whistling can be terrifying. Don’t forget to use silence at key moments as well, followed by a fright or having a volunteer run from one side of the room to the other in the dark – skitter, skitter!

Engage all of the senses

Being scared is a truly visceral experience, and it works best if you terrify holistically. Have things brush up against people. Use sound (and lack of it) as well as sights. Use smells that create a natural sense of danger, like smoke (don’t go too heavy, lest you choke your friends!).

Have a treat

Lastly, have a treat at the end – a bag of candy, maybe a homemade medal for completing the haunted house – to give to the kids. Everyone deserves a nice treat after going through that horrifying experience.