I have to start off this review with a confession: I used to be THAT person at haunted houses. I was terrified before they even started and screamed unbearably loudly whenever someone even inched toward me. But I went to a number of haunted houses to conquer my fear and now I’m cool as a cucumber. So, that being said, let me tell you what it was like to go to the opening of Fear Factory.
For those who haven’t seen Fear Factory — it’s hard to miss in Salt Lake City — it’s a towering building and the haunted house is no exception (visitors have to walk up a few flights of stairs). It used to be an actual factory and is home to several tragic deaths. Like Fear Factory says, it’s a “haunted, haunted house.” Deseret News has reported previously that this haunted house has made the list of the scariest haunted houses in the country.
I had a chance to do a brief interview with Robert Dunfield, owner and creative mind behind Fear Factory. When asked how he began creating haunted houses, he chuckled and said, “I was born and raised doing it.”
Dunfield’s father was one of the pioneers of haunted houses, he told me. He worked on the Old Mill haunted house in the ’70s and ’80s, and Dunfield was born into the business of scaring people.
When I asked Dunfield what readers could expect from this year’s haunted house, he said, “For the first time ever, we rerouted part of the walk-through, so it’s different the way you walk ... and that section is completely new.” Dunfield added that “everyone leaves with a smile, whether you screamed your way through or laughed your way through — everyone has a good time.”
My first thought when I walked into the tower was that it was dark — almost pitch black. Then, we walked through scenario after scenario. The atmosphere was spooky and the air felt wet, cold and thick. The effects here are top-notch, everything from smells to sights to noises. Given how many times I’ve gone to haunted houses, I’m pretty difficult to scare, and this one didn’t scare me, but that didn’t matter — I genuinely enjoyed my experience.
I’ll add — I spoke to four different groups of people afterwards who had gone through and three found the attraction very scary. The fourth told me that they had gone through for the last three or four years and didn’t find it as scary as previous years. But they said that if you haven’t gone through yet, you’ll find it frightening and that it’s definitely worth a visit.
I loved being able to examine the different scenarios that they had and think about the effort that went into them. I thought that the clown section was particularly done well, with the glasses that you have to wear inside and how you leave it by stepping into absolute darkness. There were other scenarios as well, including medical horrors and abandoned cars. I thought that the aesthetic of the haunted house was done perfectly.
Now at Fear Factory, there is a contact option for a small upgrade. It does add an additional scary aspect. Since I was the last person in my group, I was frequently followed and touched by the actors.
Like I said, I didn’t get super scared by the scenarios, but my heart did start beating a little bit faster when I walked on the metal grate several feet off the ground as the actors shook it. That definitely added an extra scary element to the experience.
I was able to admire the work that went into the effects of this haunted house. I thought the most interesting part of it was the clown section, where there were unique and cool effects that were thrilling. I imagine that those who go to Fear Factory will likely be most scared by the saw noises, which is what my group found most frightening.
To close, I’ll say that I love going to haunted houses. I’ll go to more this season. Typically, I go to only one or two haunted houses twice during the same season. Will I return to Fear Factory this year? The answer is yes. It is undeniably one of the best haunted houses in the country and, in my opinion, is the best designed in Utah.