The House of Lecter: weirdly spooky

While the House of Lecter haunted house on Main Street never fully delivers a scary experience, there is something to be said of its plucky can-do attitude.

There is something to be said about the House of Lecter’s location. Crammed into one of the skinny three story walk-ups that line Main, one doesn’t expect there to be as much space as the tour’s designers have squeezed out of the building.

While Lecter’s sister attraction (the Old Courthouse Catacombs) feels like someone has shoved a dump truck full of discount Halloween decorations from Wal-Mart into an unfinished basement, this haunt’s antiquated spooky setup has a charming appeal.

Visitors to the Courthouse have zero frame of reference to where they are besides being in a basement. One is lost, but theoretically has somewhere to run if fight-or-flight were to fully take over. Lecter removes that hypothetical entirely by taking up three full stories. Once a visitor has gone up the first set of stairs, they’re essentially strapped in for the duration unless they turn and go against the flow of traffic.

You know you’re in a building, but it is easy to underestimate just how much space is in the building. Some hallways go on longer than you assume the building should, some switchback sections go on long enough I could’ve sworn they were wider than the building seemed from outside.

Unfortunately quite a few of the problems that plague the Catacombs have also taken up residence in the House of Lecter.

While the line of visitors is stopped every fifteen or so guests to allow the actors time to reset their spooky setups, there really isn’t much difference. Either one is expected to be scared of a costumed actor pretending to be a statue, an actor banging a thing on another thing to make noise, or an actor jumping and shouting at the top of their lungs.

The props are of a similar quality to Lecter’s big brother haunt as well, with some sections seeming positively ancient. One section in particular consists of nothing more than a bunch of plywood walls with classic horror movie monsters painted in colors that react well to blacklights.

It’s meant to be a sort of waiting area for guests as those ahead of them try to keep balance while walking through a spinning tunnel (my absolute favorite part of the exhibit, being disoriented and trying to walk past a creepy zombie lady is a fun combo).

My disappointment with both horror locations’ “more stuff equals more scares” attitude can be summed up with the final room in Lecter.

After descending lots of rickety stairs I began to hear John Carpenter’s classic theme to “Halloween” begin to play. In my head I envisioned a sort of final boss to the haunted house, a room in which guests are forced to walk through a room while being stalked by Michael Myers, possibly brandishing a giant kitchen knife and blood-stained coveralls.

Instead I turned the corner to some sort of half-assed asylum scene in which a bunch of actors in masks and makeup that had nothing to do with each other formed a human funnel to the exit door, as if they were trying to get us out of the building as fast as possible.

In the end, these locations’ bread and butter isn’t the college age crowd, it’s the countless minivans that pull up and drop off a gaggle of pre-teens for a few hours.

Any suggestions I can give to improve the terror of Lecter or the Catacombs would simply make it worse for those willing to drop $20 to walk through a cloud of body odor and equate jumping at loud noises to being scared.