I arrived at the National Diving & Activity Centre in Chepstow for the eagerly awaited FearFest-Evil. It was easy to find and parking and registration was quick and simple. When I signed in I was told that there was a half an hour wait so went for a drink in the bar and listened to the live band. It was cold, wet and windy so I was thankful that the bar area was warm and cosy, and it was decorated with some fun and quirky decor.

After just over half an hour I followed the signs up to the attraction and headed up a short hill to find a very long queue. Thankfully there were portaloos and a bit of mood lighting in the queue area because the wait ended up being over an hour. There was a single scare actor who occasionally interacted with the queue and another who briefly poked their head over the fence a couple of times during this hour. Both actors were good but such little interaction during the long wait was a bit disappointing. 

Finally I entered the attraction and was faced with the House of Horrors. Each scene was creative and well thought out and some of the disorienting parts of the house were impactful. The group was separated a couple of times which added to the effect. The interactions we had with the scare actors were somewhat intense, fairly hands on and they were very committed to their characters. Whilst the sets, actors and costumes were fantastic, there seemed to be long periods with no jump scares or interaction at all. There were a couple of scenes where it seemed as though there should be an actor but there wasn’t and I felt there were a few missed opportunities. After crawling through some tunnels to leave the house the group was met with an actor in another amazing costume but as we headed down a beautifully spooky path to the next part of the attraction I had some time to reflect. I wondered whether the sets that lacked any jump scares may be the sets the actors we had interacted with in the queue had come from. I had anticipated a more intense and full on walk through with more separation and hands on action however the interactions  seemed quite brief. 

Then we arrived at Tales of the Dark. This part was longer and unfortunately had even more time between interactions with scare actors and very few jump scares. The set, scenes, use of smells and lighting, were effective but it felt like a creepy walk rather than a scare trail. At this point we had also been caught up by the group behind us which meant there were 13 people going through at once. This resulted in minimal impact from the scares we encountered because of the size of the group. 

The zipwire was sensibly closed due to the horrible weather and we had intended to stay for the entertainment afterwards however, because of the queue length, by the time we got out we had to leave. Judging from the bar area and atmosphere it looked like it would have been a fun end to the night. 

Overall the costume design was absolutely outstanding, the sets were creative and impactful and the scare actors they had were brilliant. However, there is room for improvement. On reflection it felt as though we were being rushed through and didn’t get as much interaction as I had hoped for. There were still a lot of groups to get through by the time we entered the attraction and it was already quite late so I think queue management is a key area which needs improvement as a long wait then to feel rushed through with limited interaction, with the addition of the group behind us catching up, was disappointing.

I’m happy to have a lengthy wait for a good experience however if it is going to be that length I think to ease the wait the queue needs more entertainment. I also think a few more scare actors are needed to fill those missed opportunities in the attraction itself.

I would recommend trying this one out for the impressive set, costume design and quality of the scare actors alone, and I look forward to what 2020 FearFest-Evil has to offer.

Author: Josie