REVIEW: Universal Studios 'Halloween Horror Nights' is an artsy, elaborate nightmare

Rhys Buccat, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 07 2017 06:07 PM | Updated as of Oct 07 2017 08:08 PM

Photo by Rhys Buccat, ABS-CBN News

SINGAPORE - Combine artsy visuals with elaborate sound effects and well-choreographed movements, and you'll have a fantastic performance. Add the words creepy and horror, and you'll have the scariest Halloween experience. 

This is exactly the formula of Universal Studios Singapore in producing their 7th Halloween Horror Nights (HHN7), undoubtedly their most thrilling Halloween offering yet. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

For this year, Halloween Horror Nights features five haunted houses and two scare zones inspired by seven modern-day sins: cruelty, deception, malice, manipulation, narcissism, perversion and obsession. Each sin is embodied by a horrifying character collectively called the Sinisters, the most wicked and terrifying entities inspired by local myths and legends. 

ABS-CBN News is among media organizations invited by Universal Studios Singapore to participate in the exclusive media preview of HHN7 held on Sept. 25. 

Photos by Resorts World Sentosa

Photos by Resorts World Sentosa

Photos by Resorts World Sentosa

Photos by Resorts World Sentosa

Photos by Resorts World Sentosa

An upbeat production number starring the Sinisters themselves fired up the stage during the media preview. Their elaborate costumes, prosthetics, and makeup alone prove Universal Studios' massive preparation for HHN7, which took almost a year to plan. 

But that's just the beginning. One can only wonder how much research and creativity it took for a production so big and meticulous. 

THE HORROR HOUSES

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

The first thing you'll see when you enter the HHN7 zone is the "Death Mall," which embodies the sin malice. The scene: an abandoned shopping mall that suffered from structural failure, killing countless shoppers and staff. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

The journey begins at the mall's parking lot, where you will be greeted by the awful screams of the victims and the deafening silence of evil entities starting to take control of the structure. 

Injured and bloodied victims will be appearing in various sections of the mall from the grocery to cinema. Moving mannequins and other fearsome entities will also appear from the shelves, dressing rooms, or even the ceiling. 

(TIP: Don't take display items from the mall as spirits will surely follow you to reclaim them.) 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

If you are fascinated by serial killers and torture movies, there's a 100 percent chance you will have a good time exploring "Inside the Mind," which represents the sin obsession. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

Here, you will be transported inside the consciousness of a spine-chilling serial killer, where lasers and optical illusions are utilized to produce mind-boggling visuals. 

You'll definitely be in awe, but try not to be distracted as creepy creatures will appear from nowhere. Keep your head up and be alert all the time. 

(TIP: The mind is a complicated and unpredictable space. Always be alert.)

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

Dark, wild, and creepy are the key characteristics of the next horror house "Hex," which represents the sin manipulation. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

The setting of "Hex" looks like an abandoned hut in the middle of the forest, where a crooked hermit cooks something scary. Get ready to be approached by witches, shamans, and a strange-looking, half-human, half-bird creature wolfing down the entrails of a dead woman. 

(TIP: Be careful not to drop your phone. You might not want to get back inside for a second round.)

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

Another beautifully set horror house is the "Terrorcotta," which represents the sin cruelty. Inside the dark, quiet nook is a cruel empress who willfully spreads terror in her little empire. 

But instead of getting frightened, many from the media group were astounded by its well-researched design. Costumes of the empress and her Terracotta Army are very elaborate. So are the props. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

(TIP: Try not to take a selfie with the empress. She is not too friendly.)

Meanwhile, K-pop fans will surely be delighted inside "Make the Cut," which represents narcissism. Filled with neon lights, the illuminated horror house has dozens of surprises in store. 

Photo by Rhys Buccat, ABS-CBN News

You will hear moans and groans from fame-crazed wannabes who will do anything to be the next big thing in Gore-pop -- even if it means selling their souls to the devil. 

Inside, you will see a mini recording studio where a grumpy DJ tortures one of the wannabes. Prepare your ears for haunting screams that will linger in your mind for quite a time. 

(TIP: Put your Gangnam moves aside. They won't please the DJ.)
 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

When you're done doing horror houses, check out the scare zones. Representing the sin perversion, "Happy Horror Days" conjures a twisted version of your favorite holidays. 

There, you'll meet a diabolical Easter bunny, wicked Humpty Dumpty, and other weird entities that may ruin your sweet childhood memories. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa
Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

The other scare zone "Pilgrimage of Sins" is located along the iconic New York street of Universal Studios Singapore. 

By daylight, it shows NYC's signature cobblestone streets and brownstones. But at night, it turns into a dungeon of pitiful captives being tormented by monstrous beings and who knows what. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

Apart from horror houses and scare zones, this year's Halloween Horror Nights also features two live shows: the "Laboratorium," which delves into the deception made by plague doctors during the so called Black Death; and the "Slice of Life Tour," which features a fascinating performance by Gore-pop trio Slit Face Girls. 

Photo by Resorts World Sentosa

These live shows feature world-class talents, including one Guinness World Records holder. 

But perhaps the most exciting offering of the HHN7 is the all-new Zombie Laser Tag Experience, where you and three other friends will have to work together to fend off and shoot deranged zombies using a laser tag. 

Photo by Rhys Buccat, ABS-CBN News

Supported by the Singapore Tourism Board, this new attraction incorporates brainwave technology where your team leader wears headbands that sense concentration levels to unlock doors inside the zombie-infested camp. 

(TIP: The undead will never die.)

With spectacular visuals, well-researched themes, well-rehearsed performances, and well-composed sound effects, this year's Halloween Horror Nights proves to be an artsy, elaborate nightmare that anyone-- regardless of fear tolerance-- will definitely enjoy. 

And perhaps the best tip for this one-of-a-kind Halloween experience is to gather up your solid friends, keep your phones away for a moment, and believe for a moment that everything you see is real. 

HHN7 will run for 14 select nights across five weekends until October 29. Tickets are available at www.halloweenhorrornights.com.sg.