The PNC Bank Arts Center is doing things a little bit different this fall. Instead of closing up shop, they’re hosting Scared in Jersey, a new interactive Halloween event.
Scared in Jersey runs every Thursday through Sunday in the month of Halloween, with the scaring beginning at 7 p.m. (There are multiple showings throughout the night).
The event is divided into three parts:
Old Mother Leeds Cottage: This is a live stage play re-enacting the birth of the Jersey Devil in the heart of the Pine Barrens. The lore the Jersey Devil is that it is the 13th child born to Mother Leeds, a woman known for her involvement in the dark arts.
Thoughts: The atmosphere of the play, especially leading into it, is very creepy, and sets a solid tone for the night. There’s also a nice touch with the “narrator” who delivers an ominous monologue about the evening. As for the play itself — it’s really brief, and honestly could’ve been a little longer. There was opportunity for a couple of scares but instead you’re ushered into the maze.
The Pine Barrens Maze: This winding path of horrors is filled with jump scares, frightening characters, and small scenes of the macabre, meant to scare the bejeezus out of you.
Thoughts: I’ve gone to a number of mazes, and I have to say this one was extremely entertaining. There’s one part that got me with a jump scare, which I appreciated. The maze is created using cargo crates, which gives it a industrial horror feel, which you’d think would negate any “Pine Barrens” feel. Luckily, there’s a number of spots where the sets put you in the deep, dark, unforgiving Pine Barrens. I commend the small vignettes/scenes that were created, as they weren’t your usual maze scares. Lots of thought went into this, and the screams of fright definitely were the pay off for the effort put in by the production team.
The Blood Drums: Once you’ve survived the Barrens, you’re escorted to a covered stage area (the VIP section of PNC in season), where you’re treated to a live performance by Blood Drums. Blood Drums are a touring drum and live performance troupe that runs different shows throughout the country. This unit of Blood Drums performs high energy drumming on kegs, garbage cans, empty gas containers, and traditional drum kits to the sounds of high-energy EDM. There’s also a dancer who performs with the drummers during certain songs.
Thoughts: This is a pretty entertaining show. The precision and showmanship here really sold the show, and I was surprised to see how many suburban New Jersey families were tapping toes, and bopping heads to drum and bass anthems. It was pretty surreal. There were a few audio gaffs, especially when the drummers pulled out an electric sander, and an electric saw to create sound effects — the microphones did not pick them up at all.
The Devil’s Midway: Food and drink are available before and after the show, which lasts 45 minutes. You can order a variety of pumpkin beers (I recommend the Traveler Pumpkin Shandy), and various “spirits.” There’s also hot pretzels, hot dogs, and a delightful array of desserts from Rita’s. The prices are stadium prices, so you’ll drop a little more than you would at a carnival, or a maze at a local farm. Highly recommend the hot chocolate milk shake from Rita’s — insanely good. Characters from the show will wander into this area, and give you a good fright.
Overall Thoughts: This is a fun night out. It’s a fun atmosphere, and there’s some solid scares here (some may disagree, especially those screaming their heads off at every turn of the maze), and it’ll definitely put you in the mood for Halloween.