When Bad Reviews Turn Into a Win
No one ever wants bad reviews, but in the live entertainment industry there’s always the possibility that an audience won’t respond to your show the way you would like. And then, what do you do? Ignore the comments, or use them to build a better event?
A great example of doing the latter is haunted house/immersive experience The Purge: Fear the Night from Blumhouse Productions, makers of horror films Paranormal Activity and Insidious. The initial idea was a free-roaming house of horrors based on The Purge, a movie in which all crime becomes legal for one terrifying night.
However, when the opening-weekend guests complained, or rather offered constructive feedback, the creators of the experience did something great. They listened. And not only did they listen but completely rework the event. Here’s a quote from the creators in response to the feedback:
“While The Purge: Fear the Night was initially intended to be a free-roaming experience, we reconceived much of the experience after receiving valuable feedback and reviews from our opening audiences. As a result, we’ve created an experience that limits free roaming and guides audiences through the story and performances … enhancing the intensity, the scares and, we hope, the fun. Visitors will be immersed in the horror of The Purge, and guided through the scenes in a way that heightens the storyline and the overall experience. We look forward to hearing your thoughts.”
It’s a smart and genuine response — and one that paid off. Goldstar reviewers that attended the revamped event had some amazing things to say:
“Another immersive, often ingenious tour de force (literally) from the horror minds at Blumhouse. Please note that this year’s debut apparently experienced some opening weekend hiccups. Hey, ambitious undertakings with a lot of moving parts often do. But after aiming high and listening to fans, the team launched a thorough, swift reboot, rendering those prematurely negative reviews MOOT. … The Purge delivers a subversive, tensely chaotic evening — don’t expect your typical haunted house. Rather, the whole sweaty walk-through plays like you’ve been dropped into the middle of a twisted military coup. The cast is uniformly first-rate (we especially loved the presidential staff who championed the resurrected US as leading the world in ‘education and martial arts training’). Great set pieces include that spectacular birth scene, fun with a firing squad, and being stowed away in a moving ‘truck.’ … Blumhouse is the new gold standard in LA Halloween attractions. That bar keeps going higher and higher. We will definitely be back next year!”
“I totally enjoyed this event. I did see the early bad reviews and just chocked it up to being opening weekend. But it turns out the producers took in all those reviews and gave it a complete makeover. What they ended up with was a great interactive scary maze! … The maze can be as fun as you make it. The more you are willing to immerse yourself into the idea of the maze the more fun you will have. I love all the interaction we got to participate in, it made it really feel like it was up to you to survive or not. … I did go to this event last year when it was the BlumHouse Theater. I would say this was even better than last year. I will surely be back next year. This was a great value at the Goldstar price.”
“Since the negative opening reviews, they completely revamped the whole experience, and while it isn’t your traditional haunted house, it is a fast-paced action thriller that you are put right in the middle of. It was an adrenaline rush and a blast. Something new that I have never done and I loved how they stepped out of the box this Halloween season. Great job Jason Blum and crew.”