Walking in to the Rule on a Thursday night I had very high hopes for this event. After all – Halloween is one of the best times in St Andrews and House of Horror is the new kid on the block who managed to make it even more epic last year. Therefore many would expect the infamous House of Horror touch would have been to transform the normally rather austere bar into a ghoul-infested nightmare. Many, however, would be sorely mistaken. Overall the decorations are pretty limited – a few random severed feet hang haphazardly from the balcony, as well as sheets and streamers to just make the area a little more private from the people below. Not a bad touch – I’m always nervous of wearing skirts up there, but it hardly screams “scary”: unless you’re afraid of sheets of course. While the severed feet worked well they seemed sad and alone as a decoration, perhaps because the committee were not allowed to go to the true extents that they’re used to. It definitely doesn’t scream haunted carnival to anybody, which is the supposed theme of the night. Based off of “Dreamland” in Coney Island, the Facebook page boasts that this is meant to “revive” the old haunted ride from before it burnt down, yet the result seems a little bit of a wet blanket.
Getting there early, I found I had my pick of free vodka shots, something no known student can possibly turn down. Yet the insistence to take them with candy floss was an added novelty, particularly as I was told “it works just as well as Tequila and Lime.” This I quickly discovered was a lie – the sickly sweetness merely added to the unpleasant flavor of vodka. One other “nice” detail was the presence of an utterly terrifying bloke in a clown costume. Maybe I’m biased because hell, clowns terrify me, but people seemed very taken with the possibility of a photo op with the childhood-trauma inducing character. While he doesn’t give out balloons he does cackle menacingly so there’s that to keep the crowd entertained. Quickly the bar fills up, I’m informed by the committee that it’s a completely sold out event, yet as more people arrive the theme seems to get further and further from what I’m sure the committee intended.
I have to admit I’m a little underwhelmed. It’s difficult to pinpoint why exactly: after all an effort has clearly been made. Perhaps it’s just that the event doesn’t feel like anything more than a night out in the Rule; there’s no overwhelming element making it a purely “Halloween” themed event. Sure, they have an (incredibly terrifying) clown roaming the venue but it’s easy to forget about him and get wrapped up in just a normal Rule cocktail. The music seems a little unimpressive, and could have been used far more as a tool to scare people or at least stick to the theme. Same goes for the candy floss and vodka combination table – they’re an element that goes pretty much over the top of most people’s head. Instead people seem to be caught up in catching up after the break still, and the vibe of the night is very much that of just another fresher event. The result is a pleasurable night, but those hard-core Halloween fans must be disappointed at the lack of jump scares or solidly secured theme.
Now by no means am I saying it was un-enjoyable, far from it. I’m just stating that everything feels a little half-baked, like a large portion of the committee may have just not bothered to show up. It’s a sad reality given that Halloween is many students favorite event of the year, and House of Horror promises to get everyone in the mood. Surely they can do better than a half-hearted and under-hyped event like this. After the success of last years’ event the new House of Horrors committee have some big shoes to fill, and this launch doesn’t exactly bode well. However I’m sure I’m joined by many in wishing them the best, and that they pull it out the bag for the main event.