Article by: Scott Feinblatt
Wherever You Go, There You Are...And Some Others.
Alone: An Existential Haunting goes where Few Dare
Death checked me out tonight. I was
on my Harley in one of those turn
lanes that is shared by both directions
of traffic, and an
OCTA bus was going
way too fast and heading straight for
me. I must confess, when Death looked
me in the eyes, I was not able to greet
her standing up; my strength gave out,
and my bike and I simply fell over as
the bus driver slammed on his brakes
and swerved to a stop about four feet
in front of me. I cannot say it was a
pleasant experience, but it was not as
disturbing as my visit to
Alone: An
Existential Haunting.

Alone is the type of haunted attraction
I had heard stories about as a child –
A detail from the waiting room                                                   Photo by: Scott Feinblatt
that is, the kind where they really mess with you. Severely. Alone's website reveals that it is “one part interactive
theater, one part psychological haunting where you become part of your own nightmare...You will be dislocated,
disoriented and disturbed”. All of this is true; in fact, before guests enter the maze, they are required to sign a
waiver of liability. Thus, it is prudent to briefly discuss the distinctions between Alone and most other haunted
In Alone, guests are handled, in turns, both
suggestively and roughly. They are also treated to
isolation from both their peers and from awareness of
the presence of the performers; during several
instances of the experience, guests are made to wait
for prolonged periods in total blackness while they
may or may not be the subject of observation by
performers with
infrared viewing devices. Guests are
also commanded to submit to various commands
ranging from speaking to lying prostrate on the floor.
There are also periods of the experience during which
guests are physically confined to small spaces.
All this is not to say that the haunt does not also include various props, costumes and characters with whom
guests interact along the way. The vignettes are imaginative, yet they retain the subjectivity and minimalist
design of the haunt's physical engagements. That is to say that each scene / room provides an opportunity for a
unique experience of the stimulus presented. This is all implied through Alone's advertising, but, given some of
the potentially traumatic engagements, the question is: “Why the heck would a person want to subject himself to
Photo from the Alone: An Existential Haunt website
Image courtesy of Alone: An Existential Haunting
The ladies who act as liaisons for the performers within            Photo by: Scott Feinblatt
Two brave souls who made it all the way through - note the marks left by
the experience                                                           Photo by: Scott Feinblatt
According to Lawrence Lewis and Devon Paulson,
the minds responsible for Alone, the haunt was the
result of challenging themselves to make something
better than the ones that they were used to
experiencing. They commented, “We don't think that
clowns with chainsaws or demons are all that scary
because as jaded fans of haunts we know they are
simply people in costumes, and we will not be killed.”
As far as their intended demographic, they offered:
“Our demographic consists mostly of people who go
to haunted houses quite frequently and are fairly
worn out by the same old cliché things. As artists
I compared notes with a few people who went through the haunt, but I'll start with my own analysis. First, I was
interested in covering the haunt for this website to provide information for other horror fans who might then want
to investigate for themselves. Second, I'm no scaredy cat; there are few – if any – things in the realm of horror
entertainment which unnerve me (the real world is another story), so there's always the curiosity that an event
with this type of approach could impress me by eliciting actual fear. Then, of course, there's a sprinkling of
Photo from the Alone: An Existential Haunt website
and filmmakers we are trying to put an artistic spin on our haunt and in so doing hopefully appeal to a slightly
more artistic crowd.”
About halfway through the 30 minute experience, I
didn't so much become afraid as uncomfortable. I
guess the logical side of my perception refused to
give way to fear so long as I possessed the
knowledge that I was engaged in a theatrical
experience – wherein no serious permanent
damage could be willfully inflicted upon me. Thus, I
wondered why I had agreed to let people shove me
into walls, lock me inside cages and test my
openness to physical intimacy by performers of
both genders.

In response to my inquiry about the boundary
between creating an entertaining diversion or an
abusive experience, the creators said, “[There] is a
fine line when you're dealing with jaded sophisticates who are bored by other older-style haunts. But it is a very
clear fine line to us on the other side. We don't want to be the most extreme, aggressively male-dominated haunt
around – that's not our intent. We prefer to have a pacing and a flow to our experience...multiple ways to interact
with the space. This does require some extreme situations and handling and hopefully some fantastic scares but
we do not cross the line into abuse. Our actors as well as ourselves are very aware of those lines and have been
coached in what is and isn't appropriate.”
Prior to entering the maze, I
observed the folks who were on deck
to go in before me. There was a
group of young men who looked like
they were getting ready for a
skydiving trip, there were two guys
who were exchanging stories of drug-
related misbehavior – one of the
stories involved trespassing on the
grounds of an abandoned, allegedly
haunted, lunatic asylum. There were
two ladies who had come at the
behest of a third, who had heard
about Alone and wanted to check it
out. And there was the guy who was
a haunt-hopper; that is, he had
visited most of the haunts in the
greater LA area – his wife was
waiting in the car.
After I had gone through the maze, I talked with a few people about their experiences. All of them reflected
favorably on it. One of them was interested in confronting her fear of haunted attractions; however, alcohol had
assisted this lass in making Alone a fairly giddy experience. Another felt like she was part of a movie and took
comfort in the fact that she was not actually alone in lieu of the presence of performers. Another was a member of
BDSM scene and had a fetishist's delight in being made to submit to compromising scenarios. Speaking of
BDSM, guests were provided a “safe” word, which they could speak at any point during the experience, and they
would be excused from the attraction. Lewis and Paulson revealed that very few people actually spoke the safety
I made it through, and I consider the experience
to be a fascinating study in interactive theater
and a daring social experiment. It is surely not
the first event of its type to exist – as I had
mentioned the stories I'd heard during my
childhood, and I am aware of at least one other
haunt in the LA area which is also an extreme
experience (alas, I couldn't get a press pass).
Regardless, this type of entertainment is
obviously not the standard stuff and is definitely
not for everybody. That being said, Lewis and
Paulson implied that the audience for this type of
experience is not as small as one might think:
“There are several new haunts around that are
trying to tap into this demographic as well, and
we feel a kinship with them and appreciate them.”
The location for Alone is the beautiful and historic Casa Vertigo, which is slightly removed from the main
downtown drag. Interestingly, the building has a sort of mystical origin in that it has
Masonic attributes and was
originally built for
The Independent Order of Odd Fellows. Despite any cult connotations those attributes may
possess, the motto of The Odd Fellows, ironically, was “Friendship, Love, and Truth.”