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Author Topic: Darkness Pines - Anderson, SC  (Read 589 times)
Badger
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« on: October 20, 2015, 10:16:18 AM »

Darkness Pines
Date visited 10/09/15

Scare Factor: 4/5
Darkness Pines seems to be in the middle of nowhere. There are looong stretches of lonely highway taking you deeper and deeper into some sort of redneck hell.  I went here last year and thought it was one of the most unique haunts I had been to all season and I was looking forward to see what they had changed.  Much to my delight there was still a (for lack of a better word) 'primitive' feel to the area.  If it wasn't for the electricity lighting up the VERY rural area, you might think you're back in 1955.  The haunt starts with a haunted hayride going around a very dark trail with an accompanying narrative.  The ride deposits you at the entrance to the main haunt where you enter the deep woods.  The people and characters hanging around the bonfire seem to be wishing you "good luck" or "goodbye" as you disappear into the gloom.  Darkness Pines offers an 'Xtreme' option later in the evening where you can be touched or messed with for an extra price (see below).  We did not take that option.

Actors: 4.25/5*
The acting is improved from last year at Darkness Pines even though the owner told me they were at about 65% staff that night.  To be fair, it was the weekend after the terrible floods and many of his actors were still cleaning up their homes.  Unfortunately, one of the actors recognized me and for the majority of the haunt, I would hear random voices yelling out "BADGER'S COMING" or "HEY EVERYONE, BADGER'S HERE" which may have confused the others in my group but caused my companion much amusement.  There are plenty of clowns infesting DP and they really go full out in your face and if you have coulrophobia, you could completely freak out here.  The backwoods characters may or may not be acting, but they are certainly realistic.  There are young children in the haunt and they provide creepy atmosphere and are perfect in what they do.

Set Design/Props/FX: 4/5
As I mentioned last year, you won't find expensive or elaborate sets here.  No store-bought animatronics, no $500 silicone masks, and no fancy sets.  What you will find is lots and lots of junk and broken-down items perfectly arranged to create an atmosphere of desparation and horror unlike any other haunt I've ever been here.  When I made my evaluation of this haunt on the Big Scary Show (www.bigscaryshow.com) last season, I mentioned they they had such creative used of foam unlike anywhere else.  This year they appear to have heaped even more foam into even more twisted and disturbing shaped and sizes to create things that you, well, you just don't know what they are but it works.  I love this place.

Length: 3.75/5
The hayride takes about 10 minutes and the walkthrough takes about 20.  No complaints here.

Value: 4.5/5
From their website:  $12 will get you the Haunted Hayride and the Haunted Trail.  $18 will get you the all new Survival Pass, which enables the monsters in the woods to TOUCH you!! $25 will get you the Xtreme Tour (18+ only)  VERY fair pricing for what you get.

Other: (fri the website)
The Xtreme tour is offered to those people who want more. You're tired of the same ole' haunted attraction. You go to every haunted attraction in hopes of something different. Well, now is your chance. We WILL handcuff you, we WILL touch you, we WILL get you nasty and dirty, and we WILL make you do things that would never imagine. We take pleasure in watching you suffer and embarrass yourself. You WILL smell things you've never smelled, you WILL see things you've never seen. Come prepared!! Xtreme tours will take up to 1 hour to complete please make time for them. We have changed the hours for Xtreme tours.  ​Xtreme tours will be offered EVERY Thursday beginning Sep. 24th.  Reservations only on Fridays and Saturdays. Nov. 6th and 7th is Xtreme tour weekend. We will do nothing but Xtreme tours.

Overall: 4.1/5
FREE PARKING!  There are concessions, a merchandise shack, and a very nice bonfire.  They also show movies while waiting for the hayride.  Be warned that signage for this haunt is limited and you can find yourself missing it if you're not looking for it.  I like this place because it doesn't try to be fancy, or think you need to have thousands in props or set designs to be effective.  They are a simple, unnerving, and truly scary place to spend an hour or so.  You can make this a destination or as a part of a 2-3 haunt evening.  If you decide to try the Xtreme option, wear old clothes and prepare to get messy.  Darkness Pines comes highly recommended by me and is truly unlike any other haunt in the area. www.darknesspines.com




*In the essence of full disclosure, I did train the actors at Darkness Pines for the 2015 season.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2015, 10:43:00 AM by Badger » Logged

packbacker
Completely Haunted
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Posts: 707


« Reply #1 on: October 25, 2015, 01:19:30 PM »

Darkness Pines
Date visited: 10/24/15

Scare Factor: 5/5
Darkness Pines starts off with a hayride.  Interestingly enough it has a pre-recorded audio track that I'm not used to finding and is quite amusing at points.  I loved the little nod to Jurassic Park by the narrator.  The trail is dark, there's a lot of rustling in the woods, and actors do come out of nowhere to terrify passengers.  Note if you have a survival pass ticket they will touch you here....and that includes chainsaws.  While amusing the hayride wasn't anything special.  That changes, though, when you get to the walking trail.  Now I'll be blunt- I find 90% of guided trails to be tedious, boring, or just plain not scary.  Darkness Pines is guided but.....WOW it works amazingly well here.  Our guide was thoroughly entertaining and caused me to giggle like a little kid a half dozen times.  The scares are 95% actor driven and these folks bring their A game.  They're hidden about anywhere possible and, when allowed, touch, grab, and mess with you after their reveal.  We had screaming, running, crawling, and a lady who just decided to play possum when a chainsaw freaked her out.  I guarantee you if you don't get scared that you will still have an amazing time laughing at the various actors, sets, or guide's commentary.


Actors: 4/5
First of all, our guide was flat out amazing.  I feel pretty confident saying he was the best guide I've ever encountered on a trail/house.  Imagine an ADHD redneck with a quick wit after snorting a bag full of cocaine.  We were running like a chicken with its head cut off with a non stop commentary punctured by observations that left me literally in tears from laughing so hard.  Hell he even would position himself to scare the slow pokes in the group.  Simply top notch.  The actors within the trail are similarly a bit "off" and are running, screaming, beating things, and completely sell the thought that they are deranged rednecks.  The survival pass allows them to touch you which in general is limited to light grabbing though I had one tickle me, several run their hands through my hair, and another one steal my hat.  Most didn't have much verbal interaction with customers other than calling them "mama" or "daddy" which was a bit odd.  Their timing was spot on and all parts of the group were assaulted. 


Sets/Props/Fx: 4/5
Honestly it looks rundown, cheap, and something that I could put together in my backyard.....but it works amazingly well.  Basically the trail is designed to house a gigantic redneck family.  There's junk strewn everywhere but in such a manner that it makes you feel uneasy.  The "walls" of the haunt are mostly palettes but they have well designed holes to allow hands, feet, faces, and such to scoot through to elicit screams.  You'll see  a fair number of gory parts and various altered items.  The misfit toys section was particularly amusing in its appearance.  A foggy tent populated by creepy children delivers goosebumps despite its simplicity.  It's difficult to adequately describe Darkness Pines- it looks cheap/rustic/ramshackle but at the same time is one hundred percent effective at delivering the mood and setting this haunt aims for. 

Length: 5/5
A ten to fifteen minute recorded audio narrated hayride starts your journey.  After disembarking you meet your guide and go on a twenty plus minute absolutely insane adventure through the woods.  the last quarter of the trail is self-guided but still just as fun/scary. 

Value: 5/5
To think that the hayride and trail is $12 seems ludicrous. There are add on options where you can be touched (and a little more) for $18.  Xtreme tours are a whole nother animal at $25 and are booked during special times.  I spent the entire time doubled over in laughter, having actors wearing my hat and rubbing my belly, and wondering what the hell was going on.

Other:
Free parking!  Concessions available on site and there is a large movie screen for your viewing pleasure while in line.  There seemed to be only ONE port-a-potty here so be warned that there is a line and lord knows I don't want to know what the inside of that thing looks like. 

Overall: 5/5
If I could bottle 1/10th of our guide's energy and wit I'd be a happy man.  He made this haunt a truly memorable experience.  Don't get me wrong- the place was kinda awesome on its own but you add to the backwoods simplicity a guide who sang about Peter Cottontail, kept harassing a customer about his jeans jacket, and had a comeback for any quip then this place becomes a memorable trip into BFE South Carolina.  The added freak out factor of actors actively touching you further increases the experience to a level where you feel like you've stepped into a comical version of "The Hills Have Eyes".  Imagine if you will The Mad Hatter leading eight people into a Redneck Wonderland.  No big props, no fancy sets, no real subtlety.  Darkness Pines channels their inner hillbilly and delivers balls to the wall screams and laughs.  Lord knows what the xtreme tour would be like!

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