Prior to our visit we made sure to visit Paranoia's website and read the very detailed synopsis for their two attractions; The Underground & Body Farm. I find that a clear story line not only helps the guests understand the motivation of the creatures in a haunt, it helps the actors become the creatures. Sometimes I'm disappointed to find a well written theme on the website only to find it absent from an attraction. This was not the case with Paranoia and I wasn't disappointed when we entered the first attraction, The Underground.
Both attractions (The Underground & Body Farm) had very few animatronics, and we didn't miss them in their sparseness. In The Underground there was one water element that was the first of it's kind I've seen in a local haunt and I was very impressed with both the element and the actor utilizing it. There was also a very good manual "ride" element that I've only seen at one other haunt but on a much smaller scale. Again, very pleased with the results. Paranoia is such a good example of a haunt with a smaller budget using every penny to the best advantage. The actors were wonderful. Between each scene there was a small portion of nearly pitch black "negative space" that gave a good anticipatory feeling as you rounded each corner. The scenes were simple but the actors were the focus, and in this reviewers opinion...they are the heart of the haunt. There was a really good disbursement of character actors, startle scare actors and the few animatronic scares. The scenes developed and expanded on the websites theme of visiting the remains of the city via underground passages and clearly achieved the story line. However, it wasn't necessary to have read the story line. The attraction has enough clear elements that if you don't know "WHY" these folks are crazy...you still do recognize that they are. Many of the actors exude the chaos of madness and if there's one thing I love in a haunt it's crazy.
After our tour through The Underground we made our way back through the alley to the front entrance and the attraction Body Farm. There is also a clearly thought out plot on the website for this attraction and they followed it well. Again, special note about the greeter/guide of this attraction. Dressed in a disturbing Lolita doll-like costume, this character exuded creepy-cute and who doesn't love that? She skipped and cajoled as we hurried to keep up following her tiny light and tinkling laughter - I adored her. We were warned not to touch anything or anyone and again set on our merry path through The Body Farm.
As you could guess by the name (and plot if you read it on the site) there is a distinct medical atmosphere to this attraction. Again, we found a good collection of character actors and startle scares. Lots of nifty medical equipment lying about and characters just dying to try all of it out on each other and us. There were also quite a few actors coming from behind, beneath and above us. I love the use of multilevel scares as it keeps guests constantly on their guard and looking for "attacks" from all directions. This haunt is the shorter of the two, but it packed a wallop.
In both haunts we were happy to find the actors crawling all over the place to get to us. As a former actor I can't help but give them virtual applause (and for their trainer as well). These people should be proud to call themselves haunt actors. Kudos! Of special note, there was a collection of disturbing young ladies that made me grin with their every entreaty...good thing they keep them locked up in cages, they seemed a bit...em... unstable. ;) There was also a girl in the bathroom that was especially good. From the minute we saw her until her last dripping hissing moment she slunk from our view, she was quite disturbing.
What I'm sure you've noticed is an obvious absence in this review of details about the sets. This haunt is not the most ornate you'll find in Atlanta. In fact, it is dressed quite simply in many scenes. However, the great scares, dedicated acting and the special elements I mentioned above are the stars of Paranoia, not the stagecraft. This isn't to imply that these are undressed sets, only that they are done on a simpler level. However, I believe it gives the actors more opportunities to BE the show. If you are looking for a haunt with movie quality sets then you might be disappointed, but if you are looking for a haunt with frightening adherence to a set story and truly dedicated, enthusiastic Scare Artists...then Paranoia is a must see.
Paranoia receives 4.4 out of 5 Bats.