As we ascended the grand staircase to the second floor we were greeted by the door person and given the requisite rules. Because Sinister Suites traverses many levels of the building you are accompanied by a guide. However, this guide stays at the back of the group and only gives verbal directions. While I would have loved to tour the attraction unguided, I understood the need. It did briefly remove the suspension of disbelief, but happily it was regained at the next turn. Even with the reins of the guide the pace of the tour is determined in large part by how quickly a frightened guest makes their way through each scene. The sets are beautifully detailed and succeed in maintaining the theme of moving from one guest room to another. Only once did I notice a deviation from this and it was effectively jarring in its difference. One really great thing about this attraction is the wonderful use of lighting. The balance of shadow and scene illumination were perfect. Too often we tour haunts that are so dark the makeup and sets are all but lost in the gloom. We were so pleased to be able to see fine details while still pushing through a cloak of darkness that hid the waiting creatures until they were ready to pounce.
Now…the creatures. These were some of the best haunt actors I’ve ever seen. For the most part they were character actors, but each character was portrayed masterfully. There were so many engaging characters that I am hard pressed to choose a favourite, but I will call out a few. There were two lovely “little girls” that engaged with us on at least three separate occasions. There was a rather graphic scene with two actors that had me turn around and just watch them at work. We also passed their scene again in a rather circuitous route through the attraction and the scene was progressing as if they had been in that dance of horror for 104 years. There was also a hotel guest with a cage full of “something” and we were entreated by this creature again later in the haunt. Do you see a theme here? The unique layout of this haunt is such that we saw many scenes from many different directions. We had different vantage points as we passed them but the creatures continued on with their “lives” as if they were truly unaware of the gawking passersby…kinda like, em ghosts? ;) I couldn’t help but be reminded of The Overlook Hotel both in scenery and in the ghost-like demeanor of the guests we encountered. My hat is off to the actors and their manager for an amazing job.
As we leave the actors, let me mention that this haunt (as far as I could tell) was virtually animatronic free. I love this! I believe the vintage feel would have been much diminished if we had encountered motion activated props. While I know animatronics have their place in the haunt world I applaud Sinister Suites for recognizing that their haunt just doesn’t need them. Costumes, effective mood setting, detailed sets and fabulous acting are what make this haunt stand above every other haunt I’ve visited this year…the animatronics were not missed.
I don’t think it’s possible for me to extend enough congratulations to Tracy, Liz and staff of this haunt. Their enthusiasm and love of haunting is clearly evident. My hope is that this second year is the beginning of a long run. I can only see this haunt getting better and better with each year. If you visit no other haunt this year, I encourage you to make the drive to Griffin and check into the Sinister Suites.
4.8 out of 5 bats