The Blackout Experiments

  • By Sherilyn Connelly
  • Wed Jul 20th, 2016 5:30pm
  • FilmFilm

The Blackout Haunted House is an “extreme immersive horror experience” in which all manner of degradation and torture is consensually committed upon the patron, who is given both a safeword and a waiver to sign beforehand promising not to sue if things go wrong(er). Blackout has been reviewed by Gawker, BuzzFeed, and our former sister paper LA Weekly, the Los Angeles location has 3 stars on Yelp from 50 reviews, and it's currently being adapted for the Oculus VR. Rich Fox's documentary The Blackout Experiments provides no such context, painting it as more underground and dangerous than it actually is. The focus is on a man named Russell, one of a group of patrons who call themselves Survivors: people who have developed a psychological addiction to Blackout, needing the horror even if it terrifies them. It's only toward the end that Russell begins referring to it as a “show,” and we finally see a staff member wearing a “Blackout Haunted House” shirt. The Blackout Experiments is shot like a horror movie, with an appropriately spooky sound design and overall sense of forboding — and Fox deserves credit for resisting the single-word-title trend and not just calling it Blackout — but in the end, the experiment feels more like a hollow thrill than anything else.

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