There is no doubt Darren Lynn Bousman has made a major impact on the horror community. His directing credits consist of some fantastic films like Saw II, Saw III, Saw IV, Repo! The Genetic Opera, The Devil’s Carnival, and a segment in Tales of Halloween! In 2016, Bousman, along with the talented writer Clint Sears and producer Gordon Bijelonic (Kid Cannibas), would go on to create something in the vein of David Fincher’s mystically thrilling The Game (1997).
Imagine.. a website with very little information. You are curious about what this strange website is, so you naturally go looking around in the source code. Within the source code you happen to stumble upon a message saying “help me”, accompanied by a phone number. You decide this is weird, and you don’t have to be to work in a few hours– so you oblige. You call the number, and are asked to schedule a meeting with the OOA Institute. Deciding to go to investigate whatever the hell is going on.. you go to the meeting. Arriving at a large warehouse, you decide to go inside. Once inside, you are subjected to an incredibly surreal and atypical interview–there are pictures of you and significant others on the wall, pictures of your dog (there are some other strange stories about what went on during those interviews, but I’ve been droning on and should wrap up this acclamation). Little did you know this anomalous interaction just started The Tension Experience.
The players of The Tension Experience were put through a 9 month alternate reality game. While not a straight-up horror experience, there were horror elements, as well as elements of suspense, action, and thriller. Players were thrown into a world of intrigue, while trying to decipher whether or not the group they were following around was a cult. The game was a spiderweb of mystery–where the players and actors had to be prepared for anything. The script was a thousand pages long. A thousand. Actors had to memorize multiple scripts, I assume with improv allowed, so if a player went with script number two the actor would have to offer choices in regards to how the player was playing. Brilliant.
The Tension Experience amped up to an event called The Tension Experience: Ascension. Ascension was an immersive experience, though it was for both the participants of The Tension Experience as well as the general public. Soon after Ascension, Darren Lynn Bousman and his team came up with The Tension Experience: Lust. This one dealt more heavily with sexuality.
Enter Theatre Macabre.
As the loud, bombastic revelry of an audience all too desperate to lose themselves within the theatre’s ample amusements and carnal delights rings out all around you, you find yourself lost in thought. A warm spotlight falls upon your face and a previously unnoticed woman has turned to you and removed her heavy veil. Stark features over-exaggerated by makeup applied to be seen from the back row somehow manage to make her eyes burrow into your soul even harder. The crowd quiets. You can hear your own heavy breathing and suspect that everyone else can as well. A lilting but commanding voice that is as much a warning as a possible siren’s call to a new way of being calls out, “Why have you come here?”
The start of Theatre Macabre is just as mystifying as The Tension Experience. Guests are communicated with through cryptic emails telling them when and where to show up. Everything outside the experience is vague and unanswered. Guests are warned to Be Aware:
The Macabre Theatre is designed to illicit responses from those who enter by choice or circumstance. Be prepared to encounter tried and true comedic and dramatic tales of love and wonder as well as live intercourse and actual murder.
and, Stay Alert:
No matter what happens around you please remember that you are a guest of the theatre and are expected to do as instructed no matter how unusual, uncomfortable or potentially life altering. Failure to do so will result in immediate eviction without refund.
While Theatre Macabre will remain Los Angeles based, Bousman said that he is looking to franchise his projects and eventually bring permanent installations to multiple cities.
Theatre Macabre runs until November 4th in LA. Will you attend the Theatre Macabre?