The theater company Satori Group mounts its third annual “Spookhaus” — and this year, it’s haunted by the ghosts of Mickey Rooney, Judy Garland and your failed childhood dreams.
When you think of a haunted house, you might imagine a monstrous masked man chasing you through hallways with a chain saw, or heart-stopping moments when someone — or something — jumps out at you from the darkness.
“Spookhaus,” the popular Halloween show put on by the theater company Satori Group, is not one of those haunted houses. This year, there is no blood and there are no weapons. Instead, it involves elements that are perhaps even more sinister.
Clowns. Lots and lots of clowns. And the specter of high childhood hopes that result in failed careers.
“Spookhaus 3: A Night of Fear, Mayhem, and Debauchery” is the third in the “Spookhaus” series in as many years, and this rendition relies less on blood and guts to frighten the participants than the inherent eeriness of grown men and women wearing makeup and wigs, while armed with the disingenuous, manic propaganda that only hucksters shilling for a talent school can provide.
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Running from Thursday through Saturday at the Northwest Film Forum, the experience itself lasts only about ten to fifteen minutes, but audience members are invited to hang out in the lobby and enjoy “killer karaoke,” drinks and popcorn while they wait their turn to enter the creepy hallways of “Spookhaus.”
Once your turn has arrived, you and few others will be led into a movie theater to watch a brief screening of an advertisement for “Mickey and Judy’s Center for Juvenile Excellence” (that’s Mickey Rooney and Judy Garland) before going on an eclectic and horrifying tour involving a creepy surveillance-cam area that watches “the children” and enough shadows filled with barely distinguishable characters to keep you unsettled the entire way through.
By the end of the experience, it becomes hard to tell if the constant yelps and cackles of laughter that permeate the Northwest Film Forum are of joy or terror and, after an intimate concert with late-career versions of Judy Garland and Mickey Rooney, you may never think of the two stars the same way again.
Clare Strasser, a founding member of the Satori Group, says the company isn’t trying to elicit a definitive emotion — either fear or laughter — from the audience. Each group’s unique reaction to the experience is an inherent part of Satori’s project.
“Our goal is to create an experience with an eye toward the audience — the audience is just as much a part of the performance as the people on stage,” Strasser said. “That experience wouldn’t exist without the people who are there to experience the scare.”
The event is only open to those 21 and older and will have two shows, at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., each day, plus an extra 4 p.m. show on Halloween.