This is a first person account from a scary reporter who decided to face her fear and visit Netherworld, the popular metro Atlanta haunted house that is currently celebrating its 20th season.
I do not like haunted houses. Or horror movies.
I don’t even like when people walk up behind me unexpectedly.
I have a friend who claps when she’s walking up behind me because she thinks that’s the only way to avoid giving me heart palpitations.
Knowing these things, I have no idea why I agreed almost immediately when AJC video editor Ryon Horne asked if he could film me going through the haunted house at Netherworld.
As an Atlanta native, I went to Six Flags over Georgia’s Fright Fest once or twice when I was a teenager, but that’s pretty much the extent of my experience with haunted houses.
Still, I departed from the AJC’s office on Tuesday and headed to Norcross to see what all the fuss surrounding Netherworld was about. The popular attraction is celebrating its 20th season this year and is featured in our recent Go Guide on local haunted houses.
Upon arriving, we did a walk thru of the “Monsters” haunted housed first. There were no actual monsters in place to jump out at me, but the darkness, props and animatronics were enough to send me running to the nearest exit within the first 3 minutes.
Outside, there was no relief. A creature with octopus-esque suckers and horns chased me down. A pirate with a shovel and knee pads came sliding down the concrete, leaving sparks in his trail.
When Horne emerged, ready to strap two GoPros to my chest and send me on my way, I knew there was no turning back. I’d visited the costume room earlier, amazed at the detail that went into each costume, and figured this would minimize some of my fear.
But, just in case, I insisted Horne and his daughter accompany me on my mission to make it through the entire haunted house, which takes roughly 20 minutes.
The first section in “Monsters” was the scariest. And, not just because monsters are popping out from every corner. (About 100 actors are utilized at Netherworld each night.)
One of the monsters flew above our heads. We fell.
From being touched by textured items hanging from the ceiling to entering a room that literally throws you off balance by giving the illusion that it is spinning, Netherworld utilizes traditional and unconventional techniques to fully emerge attendees into the experience.
In one room, the headlights of a car appeared in the darkness. As the hood of the car seemed to move towards us, we heard the sound of a horn. Then, a giant pig oinked. An alligator lunged out, snapping its mouth closed as we ran by. A human-sized bear swung back and forth in a haunted kid’s room.
As we made your way from room to room, there was one opening that was so small we had to use our hands to pry our way through, horrified that something might pop out once we reached the other side.
For a while, I became used to the experience and was able to focus on my surroundings. I was extremely fascinated by what I saw. The production value alone in Netherworld is remarkable. It's instantly clear that co-owners Ben Armstrong and Billy Messina come from film and television backgrounds.
My favorite part of the entire experience was when I saw a flash of light up ahead, signaling I had either fainted or succeeded in making it back outside.
I personally won’t be going back this season. One time was more than enough for me.
Still, I won’t hesitate to recommend Netherworld to my friends who actually enjoy terrifying haunted attractions this Halloween season.