Scaresville, a popular event that takes place at the moated Tudor house Kentwell Hall in Sudbury, Suffolk.
It’s a great location for a scare attraction with a lot of land and out buildings giving many locations and places to build sets and immersive areas.
The event starts with a small hub area. You can get food and drink here while you wait for your group number to be called. This is very much a linear experience and lasts a good 45 minutes to an hour so be prepared to walk.
This year it felt there was a lot more down time between scares. You found yourself walking for a good while before coming to the next scene or experience. Sometimes this worked in the events favour but at other times it felt like the tension had worn off and we were just walking (it didn’t help that my group just chatted all the way so you couldn’t feel fully immersed).
When you did reach an experience these were generally fun. Remembering the specific order of the experiences will be tough but there were some standout moments. The beginning section was great especially the dentist. This character really moved around the space and used irregular motion which in turn created scare after scare for our group. To be honest a lot of the rooms in this section were enjoyable with some novel effects.
You then had to traverse the moat. This in itself is quite the rush as you wobble in the dark. While logistically quite a challenge I feel it would be superb if someone could scare from the water as I doubt anyone would actually be expecting it.
The event ran through many more set scenes all with a slightly different storyline or set of scares. You went from one area with Metallica blaring to the silence of a dimly lit maze with characters lurking in the shadows.
We generally had a fun evening at Scaresville with actors that really try their best to land scares with at times a difficult audience. Sadly it didn’t compare to the incredible run in 2019 this is likely down to the bar being set exceptionally high that year and what seemed to be far fewer actors and scenes than previously experienced.
It has to be noted that while the stewards around the grounds really did their best to keep the groups separate we did find that we either caught up with the group in front or people caught up with us from behind. This is always a challenge with a long event as you have to cater for groups walking at different speeds. This was generally an issue at the start and the end. The middle section worked well and we seemed to find a good pacing.
I would absolutely still recommend you visit the event and I’m sure after the success of this year (at the time of writing tickets have sold out) they will be able to build back up to the level of experience we had in 2019 and continue to push that bar even higher.
It was a wet, windy and muddy Sunday evening when I went up to visit Scaresville’s 13th year at Kentwell Hall near Sudbury in Suffolk. Scaresville differs from most traditional Halloween scare events in that it is one long continuous experience. For me the whole walk through lasted 80 minutes from start to finish of which only a few minutes were spent waiting to space the groups apart.
There were some technical issues with the events power when I arrived, but the team obviously were doing their upmost to get everything up and running. Sadly because of this, and the rain I wasn’t able to enjoy the Unfairground as much as I’d have liked. When properly running there are a few enjoyable roaming actors, a couple of food and drink options and some travelling carnie style entertainments. There’s also a 5-minute escape room available for an additional charge. This area acts as an entertaining waiting ground whilst you wait for your groups number to be called.
Once the power was sorted my group number was soon called and you end up in a pre-event safety briefing with the rest of your group. I was with 9 other people in three different groups and luckily they were a great bunch. Since you’re with the same group of people for the entire event I certainly got a good sense of camaraderie with the other groups of strangers. After the safety briefing we had an entertaining chat with a circus ringmaster before starting the event proper with arms on shoulders.
Due to the delayed start there was occasionally some issues with bumping in to the group in front and the group behind catching up with us. This was exacerbated by the nature of the opening part of the event which has many confusing, pitch black, narrow and crouching tunnels. As a singular group this was great, but we had to regulate ourselves to enjoy the full effects. At a number of occasions throughout the event there are more theatrical set pieces which help to space the groups out as well as an occasional marshal to ensure each group gets the full effect of the scares.
As a group you are also encouraged to move position within the line, which worked well with our 10 strong lot. There are several opportunities within the maze to switch voluntarily and in some instances, occasions when this is enforced on the group. In one particularly memorable section I was in front and had to go down a dead end. The only option was to reverse course and so the person at the back now became the person at the front.
All the familiar themes from scare events are present here, there are clowns, hillbillies, possessed, zombies, werewolves, nuns, army boot camps, chemical apocalypse, native American spirits, rat maze experiments and many more. There are just so many elements that I honestly have a hard time remembering all of them and the order that I experienced them. Even the downtime spent wandering in the muddy dark had some nice jumps and creepy elements.
The scenes themselves vary from more traditional maze runs to set pieces and move from indoor to outdoor and back again. Given the time of year it’s important to dress accordingly and not unexpectedly, there will be mud. The set pieces are a combination of some good scares, creepy sections and some more light-hearted fun. I wasn’t too keen when the Sergeant Major made me pop my ‘best’ disco dance moves in front of my group. I’d have rather done five jumping jacks. After a strong, but now traditional for me finish we arrived in Bar-baric which had more food and drink options available.
Brilliant night. Not the scariest or flashiest event going, but a superb mixture of traditional scares and maze elements, with some great set pieces over a very long singular experience. I realize I’m probably a bit of a broken record at the moment, being a kid in a candy shop, but I’d highly recommend Scaresville if it’s reasonable driving distance to you. I’ll be back next year.
Scaresville runs until the 2nd of October.