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Viewers beware: Do you have what it takes to scare?

November 5, 2018 GMT

Ever wonder what it would be like to dress up and scare people at a haunted house?

Tribune-Review staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak has the answer.

Czebiniak got a monster makeover and spent a night with all sorts of creepy creatures at the AK Valley Scream Factory in New Kensington, trying her best to give visitors the heebie jeebies.

Here are four things she learned about working in a haunted house.

1. People will run away from you no matter how nice you are.

I was dressed up as a mourner, and my shtick was to beckon people over to a coffin where my uncle, husband, or someone related to me, had been laid to rest. When people got close enough to the box, I flicked a switch and my relation, who was actually a dummy, popped up to spook people.

Some visitors were suspicious from the get-go and didn’t come close to the coffin at all. Others didn’t even stop to listen to my spiel not matter how sweet and coaxing I was.

“Did you come to see my husband? Please, please come closer.”

A few people just took one look at me and bolted out of the room, so I wasn’t even able to try and scare them, which was a little frustrating.

There were some people who did play along with me and looked like they enjoyed themselves when hubby popped up.

2. You will break character (and perhaps even laugh a lot at first).

I burst out laughing when I first started scaring people, whether I “frightened” them or not. It was really funny to watch grown adults jump or scamper away from me. I wasn’t even one of the scariest monsters in the house! But, after a while you do get used to your role and are able to remain in character, even when you’re alone and no visitors are venturing through your domain.

3. You spend a lot of time waiting around.

I spent a good chunk of time just waiting for people to get to my room and had to peek through the curtains separating the spook sections constantly to see if people were coming. Other actors also walked back and forth through the rooms a lot. If you didn’t keep an eye out for people, it was easy to get overwhelmed and surprised when they came through your area.

4. If can be really difficult if a lot of people are going through the house all at once.

People in smaller groups were a lot easier to engage than people who were part of a larger crowd. At some points during the night my room looked like the stampede scene from “The Lion King.” Because of that, it was hard to grab the attention of everyone. Some people just wanted to continue on out of the room, while others hung back for a bit to participate in the scare. At the same time, more people were coming through and causing backups, which spoiled the scare because not everyone was aware of what was happening or even going on. So if you go to a haunted house, go in groups of less than 4. It will help your experience, I promise.