Barely made it out alive

A clown scare actor from the Fear Factory.

When I was 5 years old, I saw my first horror movie. It was around Halloween, and my parents played it in the living room while they were preparing dinner.

For the first 10 minutes, there was nothing wrong. A boy was playing with ammunition, but I didn’t see anything strange about it. The name of the movie was “Child’s Play.” You know — the one with the creepy doll?

It went from being an innocent movie about an adorable doll to that same doll killing family members and doing things that, to my little 5-year-old self, were terrifying.

My mom soon realized the movie was too much for me and brought me to my room to watch “Looney Tunes” instead. Once it was time for bed, the last thing I wanted was to go to my room alone, so I cried until my parents let me sleep in their room. I was like that for a week before I could sleep on my own.

The closest I ever came to seeing another horror movie was when I mistakenly walked into the movie theater and “IT 2” was playing instead of “The Addams Family.”

I have never been a fan of any horror movie or series, even true crime documentaries make me very nervous — especially the ones about serial killers that contain a lot of blood and graphic scenes.

Even with my huge aversion to horror stuff, I challenged myself to do a story about my first experience in a haunted house. I don’t know why it crossed my mind that I would be the right person for this task, but I got up the courage and convinced my coworker to come with me.

The minute the tickets were purchased, I realized how bad of an idea this could be and how little I wanted to go. My anxiety was killing me and made every day less and less exciting to go.

Friday arrived, and three hours before our ticketed time, I started my mental preparation. I know it sounds very dramatic, and maybe it was, but in my defense, this would be my first time, so I had the right to act a little crazy about it.

After a quick stop for food, we headed to Fear Factory. On the way there, I remembered how many times I passed the haunted house from the road. I thought it looked cool because of the artwork painted on the towers.

When we arrived, I was surprised by how big it was up close. A huge tower with the same drawings that were seen on the road caught my attention, along with the screams that could be heard from the outside of the building.

When I did my research on the best haunted houses in Utah, Fear Factory was one of the most popular answers, and I wanted to know what made it so special.

At the entrance of the haunted house, we met Robert Dunfield, the co-owner of Fear Factory. Dunfield said the size and scope of the place is something that makes it special compared to other haunted attractions in Utah.

“It’s six buildings and two subway hallways, and that makes it bigger and better than other haunted houses,” Dunfield said.

Dunfield said there are many ways to scare someone such as jump scares, intimidations or grotesque environments that appeal to psychological fear, and each actor does something different to cause these reactions in the visitors. He also said the concept is always changing.

“We travel around the world and see other haunted house ideas, movies, and the creative minds we have working to help us create new concepts every year.”

I asked him what a first-time haunted-house-goer should expect.

“I expect you to be surprised and scream a little bit, and in the end, I expect you to come out and feel good because you made it and survived and lived to tell the tale and create memories because we want it to be a fun experience,” Dunfield said.

When we approached the entrance of the house, they put glow-in-the-dark necklaces on us.

Right before we entered, a huge man with a pig’s head and a motorcycle appeared from behind me, and I screamed. My anxiety went through the roof without even stepping foot in the house yet.

The first thing I saw when entering the building was a demonic wolf that came out of nowhere, and that is where my torment began. The only coherent thing that came out of my screaming mouth was “please hold my hands” and “don’t leave me.” I was sandwiched between my friends.

With narrowed eyes, we began to walk until actors dressed as butchers and psychiatric patients began to scream. One of them touched my shoulder, and I almost fainted.

At that moment, I realized what the necklace was for: It meant you could be grabbed by the actors. I ripped it off and gave it to my friend as we continued our walk.

Laughter, screams, many of which were mine, and sounds accompanied us during the tour. I have never felt so stressed, scared, anxious and yet entertained in my life. When we got to a part where there were clowns, I put my life in perspective.

I hated every moment of it. I hate clowns. The laughter and the colors made me cry and all I wanted to do was get out of there. There is nothing I hate more than the clowns.

My friends laughed and so did I, but I didn’t know if it was out of fear or for fun. At one point, when we entered a section that looked like the morgue, I almost started to faint.

Scare after scare made me close my eyes for almost half of that section, which was a bad idea because I bumped into all the hanging bodies that caused mini heart attacks every time. Then I’d open my eyes to a demonic priest that was so shocking and scary that I started to cry.

I squeezed my friends’ hands so much that I’m sure I left a mark for a few days. I can say that I have never sweated so much from anxiety in my life. I finally relaxed when I thought it was over, but another clown on a motorcycle appeared and scared me even more.

At the end of the haunted house, we entered a section that looked like heaven, to symbolize that we died. My paranoia told me that something was going to come out of there when it was all over.

I left the haunted house with my heart pounding, anxious and with tears in my eyes, but also laughing and proud that I made it through and “lived to tell the tale,” as Dunfield said.

My opinion is that if you enjoy being scared to death and small heart attacks, Fear Factory is for you. I have never been so scared in all my life to the point of being on the verge of tears!

They effectively fulfilled their mission to make me scream a few times, and it’s a great way to make memories with your friends.