What it’s really like being a scare actor in a Halloween haunted house

fear farm haunted house actor

You hear them before you see them. Through the darkness comes an unnerving rustling of corn stalks, ragged breath, the heaviness of a presence bearing down on you. Maybe even a blood-curdling scream or the mechanized terror of a chainsaw motor. But the point is you know something is coming, and whatever it is will surely scare you to your core. The kicker? You paid for it, because you’re at a Halloween haunted house – and you’re surrounded by scare actors.

We all do it. Come October, we fork over our hard-earned money to have people (we think that’s what’s underneath those costumes) fill us with abject fear. It’s a choice driven by both physiological and psychological motivators.

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Physiologically, that flood of fear followed by a feeling of safety releases naturally occurring opioids like endorphins and dopamine, which signal pleasure and satisfaction. Psychologically, we’re hardwired to crave things that are new and different from our everyday lives.

But what about from the other side? Does it work the same if you’re the one doing the scaring – if you’re the scare actor? The Grateful team decided to find out by exploring the behind-the-scenes of a haunted attraction and transforming from friendly faces into frightening fiends at Phoenix’s Fear Farm. Watch the whole experience in the video below.

In broad daylight, the Fear Farm is already entirely unsettling. Every night, it turns into a veritable nightmare factory — a horror movie in real life. And as quickly became evident, the people behind the masks are committed wholly to giving guests the most immersive experience possible.

No detail proves too small. From head to toe, scare actors embody the alter-ego they’ve created through airbrushing, costume, props, movement and, well, attitude. The stranger, the better. The more unshakable an actor is in their person, the more terrifying they become to the people on the other side, wondering what evil might really lurk beneath the costume.

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If you can find a Fear Farm or similar experience near you, don’t walk… run (the extra cardio will prepare you for all of the running you’ll be doing while there). If you can slide into character and see how the other side scares, er, lives, even better.

Even if you don’t, though, embrace the big takeaway of the evening: Get weird. As Grateful’s Lauren Kelly puts it, “You shouldn’t phone in Halloween. You should make it so fun and so creative and so outside-of-the-box. What other holiday do you have to do that?”