DATE OF VISIT
October 26, 2014
HILLSBOROUGH, NEW JERSEY - Of course every attraction we visit we want it to be scary as all hell. However, that just doesn’t happen... Sometimes an owner of a haunt needs to read the critiques we type in order to better their attraction for maximum growth. At least we hope this happens, but we know how much time, effort, blood, sweat and money goes into some of these haunted attractions. So we understand when someone opts to take it personal.
Upon arriving Joe and I noticed there were a large amount of families walking the grounds of the Norz Hill Farm. The demographic was not your usual teenager/young adult crowd. This sort of took a little notch out of our excitement meter. Looking past the large groups of families, we pressed on. We grabbed our tickets and made our away across the farm to the entrance of the three attractions. From the outside the set up looked promising... The queue line for each attraction snaked through an elaborate cemetery set up complete with mood setting lighting and music. The entrances for both of the outdoor walkthroughs were nothing but a pitch black archway in a thin line of trees. This got us going! You couldn’t see what lurked beyond the tree line, we had no idea what we were walking into. Wasting no time we chose Paranoia as our first attraction of the chilly fall night.
As we began our walk our eyes adjusted to the darkness and we finally saw where Paranoia would be leading us. About fifty feet from the tree line we had just passed through was an entrance to a massive cornfield. It was dark and very very creepy on its own. I actually said, “Oh great! Here we go!” Crossing the threshold of the outer rim of the cornfield our bodies were incased in darkness, our eyes were fixated on the very narrow trail that lie ahead. It was awesome, we were thoroughly creeped out and got so excited... Unfortunately our initial feelings dwindled about one hundred steps in. During our annual tours we have experienced quite a few haunted corn fields and these can either make it or break it. Sadly this haunted field, broke it. Aside from the initial creepiness we experienced, it was all that happened. During our entire walk we encountered a total of eleven actors... We know you must be thinking we’re nuts but the attraction was a good fifteen to twenty minute walk. Therefore, the amount of actors should have been beefed up a bit. Or if you are going to have as little actors as you are, make it shorter or train the actors to deliver more intense high quality scares. The eleven actors we came into contact with just seemed very unenthused to be there. They just walked up to you and screamed or made a comment. They lacked intensity that we have seen elsewhere. Which was a real shame because if some things were executed differently it could have been a really terrifying attraction.
The corn itself was most likely the tallest corn stalks I have ever seen! The trail was tight and narrow, it was dark but nothing ever happened while walking from scene to scene. There were no scarecrows, pumpkin heads or unruly farmhands... You know items connected to a cornfield. Instead we encountered a church which was set up pretty well but lacked a flickering light or heavy fog inside. There was a great cemetery with an awesome winged reaper but again no actors. A funhouse section that could have been terrifying if there were more actors and a bit of disorienting fog. Everything just felt unfinished, like there was no follow through. Again the attraction had loads of potential to be a terrifying cornfield. It just needed a decent amount of development cosmetically and operationally. Unfortunately Paranoia never delivered its name nor was it scary. To us it was a walk through a cornfield at night. Exiting we were optimistic that the two remaining attractions would deliver. So we made our way straight back to the entrance of our next attraction, The Creepy Hollow!
Pretty much following the same premise of initial thoughts prior to entering Paranoia, we walked into this outdoor trail blind again. Crossing the darkened threshold of the attraction entrance, our eyes adjusted and it felt like we were re-entering Paranoia. It was another cornfield attraction and I thought to myself, “This has to be different from what we just experienced?!” Well... it wasn’t! It was exactly the same as Paranoia just with different scenes. The exact same negative and positive critiques we had for our first walk of the night followed us right into our second. It was like two identical attractions with different names which made no sense. Again the trail was tight, dark and creepy but this time around we ran into only eight actors... EIGHT! This wasn’t disappointing anymore, it was just downright sad! There were some really nice touches inside “The Creepy Hollow” but again it just felt unpolished. About five minutes in we had to make our way through a very creepy maze of sheets hung on wire along with young creepy kids laughing from all angles... We were both waiting and waiting for something to pop out, it would have been the ULTIMATE scare! But just like the trend of the night, nothing happened. I actually walked out of the sheets threw up my hands and said, “Are you freaking kidding me!?” We honestly couldn’t wait to get out, it was just so disappointing that this is something people pay for. That might sound brutal but it is the truth! And you know we struggle sometimes trying to keep our reviews positive but we can’t help it sometimes. For those that were screaming while walking through, all I could do is laugh and think to myself, “The typical person doesn’t truly find this terrifying! They are either putting on a show or wanting it to scare them so bad that after spending the $30 it costs to enter, what other choice do they have!?” Considering this was the second strike of the night, we entered the line for The Slay Ride with no high expectations... Sorry I have to be honest here!
Before we begin this section of our review we wish we could have snapped a picture of the wagon itself. The Slay Ride was unlike any other hayride we have ever been on. As we took our seats we couldn’t help but feel we were cattle being transported to our slaughter. At first the caged in feeling worked, however, after a few hundred feet it got loud, rickety and uncomfortable. If you are confused as to what we are talking about, the wagon was sort of like a gigantic cage box. It was definitely what they used when transporting livestock on the farm. Was it different than anything we ever experienced? Yes it was but it just took so much away from the overall ride. Because of the constant clanging there was no silence. Therefore, the scares were muffled and noneffective. Because hayrides are outdoors and are constantly moving there is A LOT that can attribute to the overall outcome of the experience. Considering this there are certain things that should be utilized during a hayride... Darkness, silence and a tight path. None of these attributes were present! The hayride was just a ride through the actual farm property which should have been utilized and then another cornfield which had been used twice that night. Now sometimes the aesthetics of a hayride can be on the poor side, but actors can sometimes make up for it. On The Slay Ride, the actors seemed bored and not dedicated to their character. For example, about halfway through the ride actors who had just been shocked were having a full blown conversation with the wagon aid. In fact one of them spoke to me and then spit off the wagon right in front of me. I was disgusted! I personally think spitting is a gross habit but to do it right in front of a customer was ten times worse!
Now of course there has to be one thing we liked about The Slay Ride and there was! Before we watched someone spit the tractor began to accelerate and we wondered what was going to happen. Then out of no where a separate darker tractor pulled up behind us... At this point we knew what was going on! The tractor behind us was chasing our wagon. It looked scary and then the lights came on and you realized how close it was to the rear. I wish I had sat at the back because it would have been awesome to experience this without really knowing! We could see this being a VERY effective scare with a wagon full of people. This was something we have never seen before, KUDOS! But then the fifteen seconds of fame dwindled because two actors had latched themselves onto the side of the wagon right behind me. What were they doing? Having a full blown conversation in my ear while trying to hold on as the wagon sped up. They were obviously doing this to have fun but you do this and it sort of ruins the experience because while I am trying to focus on whats happening behind us I have two obnoxious kids screaming in my ears. I just laughed and thought to myself, “this isn’t happening right now!” By the end of the ride, we couldn’t wait to get off! It made no sense, there was no story line and it wasn’t scary one bit. In fact it was comical and just disappointing that something can be so far south and no one notices to even attempt to make positive changes. If we were running this hayride we would utilize the farm property more, create a story and develop our actor foundation a bit more. No one seemed dedicated to what they were doing and it was obvious!
Overall Scare Farm is not a scare farm to us! It needs major revamping and major development! Everything felt unfinished from Paranoia to The Slay Ride. In reality Scare Farm isn’t boasting three separate attractions... It is home two identical but different named walk throughs and a hayride. Honestly there was a lack of creativity here! It looked like they just threw props and scenes in a cornfield and called it an attraction, twice! We honestly couldn’t understand why people were screaming while walking through. Again we do this so much that we have seen it all but really lets be truthful here. How many people who experience haunted attractions are “truly scared”? I will go out on a limb here and say about 25% of them and that 25% are small children. Adults no it is fake so I think sometimes people crave the scares so much that after paying for the attractions it forces you to even though its not a decent haunted attraction. The art of a truly good haunted house is the use of distraction, disorientation, inventive and startling scares. All three of these key players were missing! It was just so disappointing! We drove over an hour and a half to experience Scare Farm and we would never recommend it to anyone who is looking for a powerful or even decent scare. We will recommend it to families with children or young teenagers. But for the adult and tween crowd we would definitely say pass on this one! With all the advancement in the industry, Scare Farm feels very far behind. But you don’t have to believe us, you can easily experience it on your own. We are confident what we experienced occurs every night...