In the mood for a haunted house while exploring the Laurel Highlands? Huston's Haunted Hollow is the place to be.
The premise of this one follows a loose storyline that you are a group of travelers looking to take up residency at the Bruner boarding house, and, well, a nightmare unfolds that will leave you fighting for your lives!
I was able to check this one out during a media trip to the region and summarize the attraction's five haunts in this review.
Huston's Haunted Hollow Offers Five Zones of Fright
Huston's Haunted Hollow follows a similar setup to other haunted houses in the region (like ScareHouse or Hundred Acre's Manor) in that they are a multi-zone haunt that progresses in a linear path. This means that you do not have to wait for each attraction individually, and one naturally progresses into the next.
As you explore the grounds, you'll pass through themes such as the following:
- Bruner Boarding House
- Milford Asylum
- HollowWood Haunted Hayride
- Toxic Wasteland
- Dead End Cornfield
Some of these haunts are quite short (for example, the Milford Asylum and the Cornfield- the latter if only because my group magically turned the correct way at each fork), while others are quite long (such as the Toxic Wasteland which is a decently long trudge through the forest). That being said, they are reflective of what you'd expect for a boarding house and asylum in the Laurel Highlands, so their size actually ends up being quite appropriate in a manner of thinking.
One problem we've often seen with linear haunts is that it is quite easy to catch up to the group in front of you, which then results in more of a steady march through the themed zones and removes the element of surprise from many of the scares. Thankfully, the team at Huston's Haunted Hollow does a great job of providing themed breaks in between attractions to help mitigate this.
While we did catch up to the group in front of us a few times, we found that these brief stops were great for regulating the flow of guests (not to mention, providing a bit of mental prep for the fright that was about to come- anyone up for being harassed by a guard at the asylum before being shoved inside?).
These subtle details helped with the overall experience of an otherwise, admittedly, campy plotline.
A Campy Horror Plot But Great Ambiance
One of the things that I liked about the Haunted Hollow is that the zones themselves follow a rather loose storyline as you progress.
You learn of this plot mid-way through your journey when you board a hayride and watch a campy horror film that doubles as the background story. The plot follows a group of travelers who visit the Bruner boarding house and find themselves being hunted down by creatures, thus having to escape.
It doesn't take long for you to realize that you are also escaping the boarding house, and your time in the hollow follows an eerie parallel to what you see on the screen. The plot progresses even further on a second hayride further on, and, well, we'll leave it at that for you to find out the rest when you visit!
While the film leaves a lot to be desired (its a low budget horror flick, after all), I appreciated this context as many haunted houses that have multiple themed zones often do not have a cohesive storyline to bring it all together. Even in being a limited storyline here, I fully appreciated the attempt.
Beyond this, my favorite part about Huston's Haunted Hollow is not any specific scare, but rather the ambiance overall. I do not want to give much away here, but the haunted house uses the property quite well in its theming. This is highlighted in the toxic wasteland portion which covers a fairly vast distance with more spaced out scares. At times all it takes is your group alone in the darkness to provide the mood, as the anticipation of the next shock is often worse than the fright itself.
Overall, Huston's Haunted Hollow offers five themed fright concepts that are tied together in a loose overall storyline. While this one may not have the craziest of special effects or more elaborate scares like we've seen at other haunted houses nearby, they make up for it with a nice ambiance from the property as a whole.
So if you're looking for a fright in the Laurel Highlands this Halloween, you may want to give Huston's Haunted Hollow a try.
Huston's Haunted Hollow is located at 126 Woodland Road in Rockwood, PA. It is only open for 10 nights a season on Fridays and Saturdays starting from the last weekend of September through October. As such, prepare for lines. During my visit, the wait to enter was approximately 90 minutes but could be bypassed with a fast pass for a nominal charge. I was a guest of the Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau for this review. As always, all opinions are my own.
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