Usually, when I am writing an event’s review, I am inclined to wax lyrical about the atmosphere of a function. However, unfortunately it was a case of wind and rain stop-play. This year’s House of Horrors team made an excellent effort to create a thrilling environment, yet did not see the turnout of students they deserved. It seemed to me that the bad weather kept the ghosts and ghouls in the graveyard, rather than on the dance floor.
The theme of the event, ‘Kingdom Grimm,’ was creatively captured through an array of fantastical decorations. Kinkell Byre’s country barn interior was dramatically transformed into a haunted forest, closely resembling the fairytale lands depicted in children’s’ books. From the facade of a crumbling castle that framed the entrance to the striking display of real tree branches that made up the dark and magical wood, the unique and intimate architecture of Kinkell Byre was used to its full potential.
This enchanting world was brought to life by the eclectic mix of Halloween costumes on display. Everyone fully embraced the fairytale theme by dressing up as their favourite fictional villain, or in some cases, victim. House of Horror provided the perfect opportunity for students to embrace their childlike fantasies and to explore the dark side of every fairytale. Although finding or creating a costume can be an exciting task, dressing up can also be financially straining for students. Additionally, there is the age-old pressure to impress your peers with the most innovative costume. Fortunately, House of Horror did an excellent job in diminishing these apprehensions. The House of Horror committee created a relaxed environment where “everyone felt welcome to show up, dress up and be whoever they wanted for a night” (according to Co-Director Isabela Campos de Almeida).
One particular fancy dress costume that stole the limelight was a spectacular take on Lewis Carroll’s Queen of Hearts. The student wore a black leather dress decorated with scattered playing cards and red roses were draped over her shoulders. A handmade teacup and saucer sat on the side of her head as if pouring out tea. The Queen of Heart’s trademark red lips were obviously accentuated and completed the look of the creative outfit. But this was no ordinary adaptation of the beloved fairytale character. Down the side of her face, the student had painted in fake blood a large wound. This inspired costume embraced the theme of the evening. It placed a dark twist on the innocent make-believe.
An additional success of the evening was the diverse range of re-freshments provided. Guests were offered a free shot on arrival and, as usual, they had the choice of two main bars to buy additional beverages from. There were both sweet and savoury food options served outside and within the venue. A selection of food trucks positioned at the entrance of the building sold hot food throughout the night and a pancake stand could be found next to the indoor toilets. The food was well-priced and efficiently distributed.
The show stopper of the evening was the free sweet shop. Hidden within a small room, jars of sugary treats were spread across a table. Guests were allowed to help themselves and many did. Besides eating and drinking, House of Horror also offered other forms of enjoyment. The best of which was the fairground ride, ‘Limbo Dancer’, which provided a two-minute adrenaline rush. Though it was unfortunate that the ride closed early in the evening, after one or two goes on the ride and a couple of drinks, people were certainly ready to move onto the dance floor.
One criticism was the music played did lack a little energy and enthusiasm. Unfortunately, as the evening went on, the number of people began to thin out, particularly on the dance floor. Kinkell Byre’s dance floor became slightly reminiscent of a real ghost town. The DJs’ passion and consistent buoyancy did however persevere. Perhaps next year we could hear slightly spookier tunes to contribute to the haunting atmosphere. However, the silver lining of the poor turnout was that toilet queues were shorter, bar queues moved faster and coat collection was quick and efficient.
In addition, the sparsity of the event meant that photographers were easy to spot and it was not difficult to catch their attention. As opposed to the usual quick-and-rush photo we experience at most University events, the photographers offered to take several photos of the same guests. When I asked why this was, they said there weren’t enough guests to photograph this year and they were struggling to fill up their camera roll by the end of the night.
In conclusion, House of Horror was a well-organised event, and the committee’s effort to create an enjoyable evening was clearly appreciated. It is a shame that certain elements were unsuccessful and the overall atmosphere was slightly deflated, but spending a night with friendsin a beautiful location is definitely something to be thankful for.