A lot of other "review sites" will not show their criteria to the public. A lot don't even have a specific criteria that they follow. They just judge it off personal preference. Some have even taken a page or two from our criteria, categories and scoring system. Which is perfectly fine, because that means they are at least trying to review a haunt the right way and with a fair system. Click the buttons below to see the things we look for in each category while reviewing a haunt.
Are they believable? Do they stay in character? How is their timing? Do they work the entire group? Do they single one person out and neglect the other patrons? Are they ready once we enter the scene? Do they depend on the “stare scare”? (It’s okay if you have a few that uses this technique. But, if you have more than a handful of actors trying to pull it off. That’s lack of creativity and definitely points off.) How well they interact with patrons, props, within the scenes, the other actors? Do they touch? Are they high energy?
The biggest thing that counts points off for big budget and mid level haunts is movie masks. Unless there is a scene that calls for it, they should not be walking around in Jason masks for example. If there is an actor walking around in a Myers, Jason, Freddy mask. Their costume better be spot on.
We should never see an actor breaking character unless it’s an emergency situation. Never see them on break in "boo holes" (Certain spots an actor can go to be hidden from patrons). Never see them on break in the public eye. Hitting on female patrons in the group. It’s a VERY common thing. It’s very unprofessional and I’m sure the paying customer does not appreciate that. Especially, the boyfriend or husband.
How well they work the performance. There is one fact in haunt acting. You’re NOT going to scare everyone. How you react to the ones who are a tough scare is a huge test to an actor. We watch for that. Do they tuck tail and run off to their "boo holes"? Or do they continue to stay in character and entertain the patrons?
Actors are the absolute most important piece of the puzzle to a successful haunt. Actors WILL make or break you. They are the life blood and heartbeat to every haunt. Patrons should respect them and haunt owners and managers should be grateful for them!
Is it creepy and does it give off a haunted vibe? Is it fun filled? Does it keep you busy on crowded nights? Is it entertaining? Is it even haunt related? Are there food and drinks? If so, is it overpriced? Do they sell merch? Is there bands? Is there a freak show or side show? Do they make you pay to do these extra things while waiting? Do they have actors outside roaming? Is it boring with nothing to do except wait in line? Do you wait outdoors? Indoors? Or both? Are there bathrooms? They may have activities, but, is it quality activities? Or is it duck duck goose and corn hole?
Is there a theme? Do they follow it? Do they give a back story and follow it? (More points if they do that). Are the trail/scenes believable? How creative is it? How original is it? Does it look as if it was thrown together at the last minute? Does it appear that a lot of time went into it? Does it make us feel like we’re a part of the experience? How detailed is it? How long is the trail? Does the trail flow from scene to scene? How many times did we catch a group in front of us or how many times did a group catch us? Are there trip hazards that seem to be ignored by production? Is it extreme? Is it rated R? Is it actor driven, prop driven? Are there dead spots?
Dead spots are one of the biggest things we look for and count points off on. If your trail is long, there needs to be plenty of actors to cover it.
Another big thing, especially, for Premiere Haunts. We count off points if we see extension cords hanging from walls, taped down to the floor. Fog machines out in the open for all to see. There is no excuse for a big budget haunt to have these things exposed. If you claim to be a “Premiere Haunt”. These things need to be well hidden within the experience. If seen, it completely takes away from the experience for patrons. Trust me, the public notices it. We hear about it all the time when we talk with them during the month.
Is it realistic? Detailed? Can you tell what it’s supposed to be? Does it match the concept or ideas of their scenes? Is it out of place? Do the costumes fit the actors? An experience killer for a patron is seeing a actor in a costume that is obviously to big for them. If a haunt has Icon characters, do they look the part?
This is a category that make or break a review depending on how the actors look while in their roles. We understand the budget differences with haunts. But, even smaller haunts can find ways to be creative with their make up and costumes. Creativity and attention to detail is a free art. We absolutely can tell the difference between laziness and someone who tries to look the part. And this is the biggest pet peeve for us at a haunt with this category. Unless an actor is portraying a victim or a "serial killer" role of some sorts that matches the story or scene. It is never okay to simply scare while wearing jeans and a bloody T-Shirt or Shirtless. That's simply lazy on the managements part for allowing it to happen.
Does it make the scenes believable? Is it too dark? Is it too bright? Does it take away from the scenes and actors or the make up? Is it cheesy? Is it cheap looking? Is it a strobe light heaven? Do they rely on heavy fog throughout? Many factors go into this category. We typically don't judge too harshly with this unless it's something that just takes away from the experience. We understand the budget differences in each haunt and we don't compare haunts to other haunts. Or one experience vs another. Scurryface is NOT "premiere junkies". We look at placement, how it looks and the creativity that went into it. We love seeing the haunts with lesser budgets come up with creative ways to do more with less. That is what makes this industry amazing!
“That’s a weird thing to judge on”.
No, it’s not. Management/employees can make or break a haunt. If you have a bunch of rude people interacting with patrons, that leaves the patron with a bad taste in their mouth. Haunts do exist out there that have managers/owners who believe they are too good for reviews or to talk to patrons about their experience. That is a shame and it's a huge negative. These seem to only exist with the big budget corporate haunts. The ones that believe if you're not the "travel channel" or "haunt world", you don't matter.The employees selling tickets, food, merch etc. is an extension of management. I know for one being in management in the industry, you can get very busy throughout the night. It is very hard to get out and talk to patrons. You have to rely on your employees to be your extension when things get crazy.
They should be very knowledgeable on everything going on with the event. During the event, if employees can’t answer simple questions. That’s a sure sign of broken down communication within management. Customer Service is VERY important.
Bang for your buck:
Simply, is it worth the cost of admission? Did we receive the quality that we paid for? Does it cost to park? If so, we throw that into the equation. We are 100% against having to pay for parking. To us, if the place of establishment is privately owned. That’s a sign of greed from management. It’s another way for them to sneak dollars out of the public’s pockets. There are exceptions to this. The money goes 100% to charity or the haunt is renting the property.
How long did it take us to complete the trail? If multiple trails, add the total time to the completion all trails. If the haunt is a premiere ($20 plus tickets) and the experience is short lived. That’s a huge negative. How long was the wait time? That goes into bang for your buck. If you have to wait more than 2 hours for an 8 to 12 minute walk through at premiere prices. That’s not good. We check for dead spots. If the haunt seems short staffed, this is negative for bang for your buck. Be cause you’re not receiving the quality for what you paid for. We check out the activities outside of the attraction. How much are they? Are they worth the money on top of the price of admission to the haunt itself?
We are always able to tell a haunt that wants to give the best possible show to the public vs. An haunt that wants to overcharge and give minimum/half effort to entertain the public. We call those the “HAHA! Gotcha money haunts” They do exist and it’s a shame. We base it on a dollar per minute during the experience. If the price is $20 or more and the experience is less than 20 minutes, that's not a bad thing if you are constantly interacted with during the entire experience. Dead spots is a haunts worst nightmare when it comes to this category.
Is it Scary?
Did you jump? Did you yell or scream? Were you nervous? Did it make you feel uncomfortable in the haunt sense? The group you were with, did they scream, yell or jump a lot?
We as reviewers are the hardest individuals to startle or scare. If you get us, you definitely will get extra points! We typically like to go in with groups of strangers. That’s how we get the best gauge of how scary it is. We’ve been in the industry long enough to see what would work and what would not work with the average haunt goer.
It comes down to a point system we give on all other categories. How well haunts score in those categories will determine the overall score. We post our point range on each review with icons. With how every many icons you get. You'll know where your final score ranges at.
We have nailed reviewing haunts down to a simple science. Like I said, it takes a lot more than just walking through and deciding if we like it or not. Attention to details are EVERYTHING!
Scurryface reviewers are very experienced in these categories and give honest reviews. I have a standard that I hold myself and this team to. I won’t allow just anyone to be an official ScurryFace reviewer. I’m all about honesty and quality work. The public deserves quality shows with the money they are paying. That’s what we’re here for. To make sure the public knows what they are paying for. And for us to promote quality haunts of all kinds.
Stay Scurry and Happy Haunting!