The Creative and Theatrical Scenes at The 715 Haunted House are a Real Scream (4 stars)
by Johnny Monsarrat
Halloween attractions can startle you, or disgust you, but the best ones treat your walk through their haunted hallways like an interactive theatre show, and in this category The 715 Haunted House is one of the best.
Remarkably it's in a select league of only three Halloween attractions that are genuinely close to Boston, in Canton, Massachusetts. You can even get there on the commuter rail to Canton Center. It's based in a mall, the Village Shoppes, so you can get dinner nearby.
They start by setting the scene. A creepy old man died and arranged in his will for innocent travelers (that's you!) to be chased and mauled by horrible monster. Will you survive the journey through the haunted house??
In a mall location, space is limited, and you expect a short experience. However they make good use of the space by having a few scenes where you are supposed to linger and watch the actors play out a scene before you, nightmarish creatures glare at you from cages and start to escape from them. A young girl gets murdered before your eyes -- and you're next! Another girl weeps and shrieks warning of The Devil, and you'd better watch for him too.
The costuming and makeup were innovative. There were a few times I saw what I was sure was a mannequin but turned out to be an actor lying in wait to startle me. "Aaaaah! You got me!" I admitted more than once to an actor who fooled me.
The effect of the costuming was then multiplied with great acting. Someone with a theatre background was clearly involved and the actors seem to have had training and practice. They took on roles that had a little background and story to them, rather than just shouting to startle us. It was amazing how much energy and how scary they were given that friends and I attended on opening night. Some of the "scare spots", the locations where creatures lurk, were a bit predictable but are sure to improve as the season progresses.
I've seen so many Halloween attractions that it's a real treat to find such innovative, unique concepts. Monsters in cages give you a feeling of safety, but then it slowly evaporates as you realize they may soon be free. I've never seen anything like the wonderful place where a half dozen monsters chase you down a hallway, just like in the zombie genre. The corridor is fully lit for safety, and please don't run, but it's a fantastic high energy finish. Who wouldn't love to be chased by a whole group of monsters?
The attraction did have some limits. Mall spaces are expensive and cannot be large, so the walk was 15 minutes to be generous, more like 10 minutes. We couldn't pay attention simultaneously to the introductory video, which went on too long, and the performing monsters. A few times it was confusing where to go next. The attraction's sets were sometimes ordinary, although we never noticed we were in a mall space. I don't recall animatronics or remarkable special effects.
Despite all this, Bostonians are lucky to have a venue so close that has such a rich experience. I've glad to give The 715 Haunted House an unexpectedly great 4 stars, making it the best mall Halloween attraction in Massachusetts.
Find the 715 Haunted House on the east side of The Village Shoppes, 95 Washington St, Canton, MA, or at https://www.facebook.com/The715.