...It is an exploitation haunt and I dig that but thats just me, it will always be subjective.
Extreme. The new word for novelty, i.e., 'something different'.
These kinds of haunts have been around for a long time, Blackout is the one getting press right now. They appeal to a small minority, but not enough to be financially successful for long. Detroit (then later, New York) had an 'X-rated' haunt years back, and it presented most of the scenes you could imagine, some where the actors would (try to) get patrons to participate. A Texas haunt had live animals you had to get through in the dark (ever tried to squeeze past a cow in the dark?). Or what you think are Lions in the room with you, in the dark. The 'rat lady' at Universal and SpookyWorld shook up a lot of people. The Punch Drunk Theater's Macbeth is possibly the most interesting interactive theater experience, in the dark, I've heard of - but that's theater, and really falls outside of haunting (or does it?).
There are two directions to take, going extreme, or moving into another genre. Extreme does have its limits. I remember Joe Jensen, a large haunt owner in Chicago from years ago, stating that if he could 'just kill one patron a year' his attendance would skyrocket. Now, that's extreme - and he's probably right. Moving to other genres is another option, with a myriad of issues around communicating that this is something 'new' instead of something 'different' that may not appeal to everyone. It's very difficult to convince folks you're a "haunted attraction" when producing the Scottish play. And, interestingly, Macbeth *is* a ghost story....
Still, abuse is abuse, and somehow seems to fill a need for some folks (but its not my cup of tea) . A Hell House seems to fill a need somehow. (imho - this is the MOST disturbing - and abusive - 'haunt' in my book). Given the choice between a Hell House and Blackout - it's Blackout, hands down. At least, they're advertising what they are ;-)
Every year at the haunted attraction show, you can hear dozens of conversations among haunt owners about the 'next big thing' that'll add novelty to their shows, and, bring in more customers. That's what sells, both for the business owner, and the consumer.
The same issue concerns theme parks owners - what's the next new, 'extreme' thing we can add to get people in the gate? That 1,000 foot drop coaster that spins you until you hurl is so last year... what you got *this* year?
Novelty gets attention. Its extremely difficult to give folks consistently high entertainment value while reaching for the next "new thing". Spookywoods goes 'out there' every year trying to give the next big thing. And, with risk, comes controversy, success, and sometimes, angst. But, hit or miss, going to the 'edge' of the entertainment experience does bring folks to the ticket booth. And, when all is said and done, people vote with their dollars. And that's what keeps the lights on (or off, as the case may be).
I believe there is a lot of unexplored 'terror-tory' in haunting yet to be unearthed (all puns intended).
For every dozen 'extreme' attempts at haunted entertainment, there will be one 'gem', one paradigm-changer, that'll make an impact across the entire country.
They come around every now and then....
My extreme 26.7 cents...