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Review: The Ghost Hunt by Screamworks

Torches in hand, we venture into Bethnal Green's most haunted house to experience the latest show from London's top immersive horror producers.


Poster for The Ghost Hunt by Screamworks

Halloween is an apt time for an immersive theatre company that specialises in horror experiences to return with a new show. Following up the 8-month run of Bloodbath, which occupied their venue located below the arches of Bethnal Green, Screamworks are back with a show that offers big scares and a compelling story for those willing to dive in head first...


Set within the abandoned home of the Luff family, who all died in 1937 in a bloody murder-suicide, visitors are invited by paranormal investigator Hector Phoenix to explore the family home and uncover the story of what caused their horrific deaths to occur.

Screamworks previous show blurred the boundaries of what is the norm in immersive experiences, with actors force-feeding and tying up visitors, on top of at its climax attempting to undress those who have braved the show, it was an arresting experience for those who attended. The most confronting parts of Bloodbath saw visitors become complicit in the actions of a serial killer, and played with the ideas of voyeurism and torture being little more than entertainment for blood thirsty audiences.


In our recent interview with Gary Stocker - the CEO of Screamworks - he shared how their commitment to creating the immersive experience may have put some visitors off by appearing too intense. Therefore it's no surprise that The Ghost Hunt's website seems to promise a show that's less intense than Bloodbath, with no physical contact between actors and visitors, and a storyline that's sold as more spooky than gory.


On paper it may seem like a step away from the boundary-pushing experience that made their previous work so engaging, but in reality The Ghost Hunt is just as intense and terrifying an experience, with dozens of moments that had us jumping, screaming and recoiling in fear.

The Ghost Hunt logo

Upon entry, each visitor is handed a torch - it's largely up to them to find their way through the space and discover what's hidden inside the various dimly lit rooms that make up the 45 minute long experience. Putting the responsibility onto visitors to find their own way helps ramp up the tension, and makes going around every corner a frightening prospect. You're free to explore at your own pace, which allows ample opportunity to pour over the clues scattered throughout if you're so inclined. A section midway through the show allowed us to sit around a makeshift ouija board as we quizzed one of the house's spirits on what had happened there nearly 100 years prior for as long as we liked.


The shows cast of five, who can appear and disappear at a moments notice through a maze of secret doors and hidden entries keep you constantly on edge. One moment towards the end of the show saw Hector Phoenix, the paranormal investigator who tasked us with exploring the house in the first place, appear behind us in a moment of complete darkness. Elsewhere, Geoffrey Luff - with a knife sticking out his back as he's slowly dying of blood loss, cornered our group in one of the rooms as we were interrogated on what had become of his children.

Poster for The Ghost Hunt by Screamworks

The key difference between Screamwork's productions and your run of the mill scare experience is the ambitious storytelling. The Ghost Hunt tells a cohesive story that is drip fed to guests across it's 45 minute duration. Through various newspaper articles and letters scattered across the shows 10 rooms, along with some set pieces that offer both scares and exposition, you leave the experience having learnt about the supposedly true history of the shows setting.


Previously we claimed that Screamworks would soon to be the leading immersive horror creators in London. Based on the screams both from our group and the echo's of those elsewhere in the venue during our visit, they've delivered a show that confirms that theory, and we now feel they're hands down the top creators of immersive horror experiences in the city.


While time is limited to experience this show before it closes on 31st October, future plans for the venue involve an escape room featuring live actors that will open in November. We'd recommend trying to get down there before this show closes as it's easily one of the best scare attractions on offer in London this Halloween season.


★★★★

 

Screamwork's The Ghost Hunt runs from 5th October to 31st October in Bethnal Green. Tickets are available to book here.

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