Hammer House Of Horror Live: The Soulless Ones

Theatre, Interactive
2 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(13user reviews)
Hammer House Of Horror Live: The Soulless Ones

This ambitious vampire jaunt is decent horror, but not great interactive theatre

There’s something stirring in the rabbit warren of Victorian-era venue Hoxton Hall in east London – something new. That wrenching, rasping noise is the sound of a major British franchise taking its first step into theatre.

Legendary horror film company Hammer has had a resurgence recently, producing well-crafted chillers like the Daniel Radcliffe-starring ‘The Woman in Black’. Here, it’s gone back to its blood-red roots. ‘The Soulless Ones’ plays out a story of vampires scheming to walk in the sunlight throughout Hoxton Hall’s various rooms.

For fang fans, there’s a decent amount of arterial spray and the production looks gorgeous. Designer Jane Brodie has completely transformed Hoxton Hall, packing every room with gothic detail. This is an exemplary piece of world-building, evoking the Victorian lavishness of Francis Ford Coppola’s ‘Dracula’ and the twilight backrooms of TV series ‘Penny Dreadful’.

The show’s co-creators, Oscar Blustin and Anna Soderblom, deserve respect for crafting an original story rather than just pulling in the punters by raiding everything in Hammer’s back catalogue under the heading ‘Christopher Lee’. But truly immersive theatre, which completely absorbs an audience into the live space of its tale, is tricky to get right. This is where the show falters.

Blustin and Soderblom do a decent enough job of staging scenes throughout the building, which allows you vaguely to grasp the characters’ differing agendas, when you obviously can’t be in every room at once. But it’s a piecemeal and ‘on rails’ experience. You spend most of your time turning up at the tail-end of some frustratingly opaque bit of dialogue and jostling for leg-room.

The cast gives full-blooded performances (sorry, sorry). Robert Nairne gives us a particularly fun, skittering turn as the vamps’ human ‘pet’ Dimi. But there’s no interaction with the characters. Cumulatively, then, engaging with ‘The Soulless Ones’ feels like chasing a partially overheard film through a noisy crowd of people. It might have an 18-rating, but this is sadly fangless.

By: Tom Wicker

Posted:

Average User Rating

2.8 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:1
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:7
  • 2 star:3
  • 1 star:1
LiveReviews|13
3 people listening
tastemaker

A little like immersive video games that offer the opportunity to make choices, this theatre experience offers visitors to create their own story, piecing together fragments from the narrative taking place in the different rooms. On the plus side, the experience was incredibly immersive, with fabulous set dressing, brilliant characters and a good story. Thought the ticket prices are on the steep side, if you are looking for a high-end, Halloween treat- this is definitely an experience! There is also a bar that can be used throughout the two and a half hour experience and a free cloak room. 

However, as with many things, there also have to be negatives. Though the experience gives you freedom of movement, the story can be difficult to follow, especially if you end up in a room with lots of guests and very quiet dialogue; you end up straining to follow that the immersive nature is lost, this also affected the fear factor of the story, as missing parts of the story meant that we were forced to focus on picking up the pieces, as opposed to drawing in the full experience. Worth visiting for something different to do at Halloween but not the best value for money.

tastemaker

This was an entertaining evening of more of an immersive theatre experience like watching a movie from the inside. The acting was excellent and the actors never broke out of character. It started in the main hall at Hoxton Hall to open the story line and then you were given free reign of the building to follow whichever actor you wished and in turn their story. The building was incredibly staged however this wasn't a scary experience by any means.

tastemaker

The Soulless Ones journey begins in the Hoxton Hall's theatre in a scene reminiscent of the autopsy viewings from 'the olden days'. The devilish intro sets the scene of the story, and you're then instructed to explore the building to uncover the rest. Whether you follow one actor or choose to wander, you'll come back to the main hall for the finale. 


Each room in the building is stunningly put together. From the deep mossy floor and gravestones in the crypt to the eerie puppets hanging from ceilings, it's really well done. The actors are all amazing too, and manage to stay on track while being chased around by the audience. You will be up and down the stairs like a yoyo, so wear comfy shoes (preferably in black, to match the cloak!). 


Despite the great sets. actors and script, the experience could do with more fear factor. Nobody jumps out on you and there's nothing to really put shivers in your bones. A couple of actors dedicated to freaking out the audience would be a welcome addition to the scenario. 


All in all, it's a really unique experience that you could do three times and see something totally different each time. 








tastemaker

I had no pre conceptions of this event and I am a huge Halloween fan.

Hoxton Hall is a short walk from Old Street station.

We were provided with a cloak, possibly so you can identify who is audience and who isn't.

The play begins as a 'believer' invites everyone to look around after introducing some key characters.

When he says look around you end up walking around lots of different rooms where actors are talking about the vampires and how they want to plot to see daylight again.

The rooms are decorated brilliantly and it's almost rather fascinating about which room to pick next after you watch normally a 5-10 min scene. Everyone who sees this will get a different experience you have to give kudos to the set designers in this as it's pretty awesome to walk around everywhere.

There is a bar you can use throughout as well.

It does get a little much and I'm not sure the actual story of the play is that good but if you use your imagination and appreciate that this is just a halloween experience then you come to reconsider your thoughts.

It is very immersive and clever which is the strong appeal but would i go again? Probably not. I wasn't scared at all and did find it went on a bit.

I understand why it's so expensive basically because of what they have done to the venue so if you appreciate live theatre with some interaction and barely any sitting down plus love a vampire story then snap up a ticket to this.

Tastemaker

Sadly, this was not a horror experience at all; I didn't feel at any point horror or scared. Being advertised as horror immersivie theatre, I was expecting so much more. Hoxton Hall always attracts immersive/clever productions due to its spacious rooms across the building. This one, had really nice sets and really good actors being part of the performance but was lacking everything else. The first 5 minutes are so promising but after that everything falls apart. The story is too complicated to follow, the perfomance is too lengthy for no reason, you have to wander around the rooms grasping only bits and pieces from the play as in the other rooms there is action that goes on and you lose it...It had all the potentials to be an excellent experience but unfortunately does not manage to convince.

Tastemaker

I attended The Hammer House of Horror last week and I was really impressed by the building and how it was set up to accommodate the show. I must say I really liked it and had a great time. The performers were amazing, the sets were superb, the makeup was spot on and I particularly loved the costumes. The plot itself wasn’t that great but I suspect that was because several scenes in take place in different rooms at the same time so people had to make sense even they hadn’t seen all the scenes. There’s so many rooms to explore and as the time goes by more and more rooms become available and you have to follow different characters every time to make the most of it. Tip: don’t stay in one room, particularly not the main one. It wasn’t too scary but scary enough I guess, quite vampirey armosphere but to be honest I’ve never seen series movies with vampires and I loved this one. It wasn’t too interactive which was perfectly fine by me, I am not the kind of person who would enjoy it. I don’t want to spoil it more for you but I did enjoy it and I highly recommend it, however I find it a bit pricey. The venue is definitely a bonus.

Tastemaker

This is an amazing experience IF you go about it in the right way. What starts off as a more standard in the round play soon turns into a play where you can wander the rooms and follow the actors to piece together their different stories as they engage each other. In this play, the actors don't go out of character when they leave the stage, but invite you to follow where they will (in a very well timed and rehearsed piece of theatre) engage with another character who has been talking with someone else in another room. You could see this pay three times and get a different experience every time. Luckily, I think I followed the right characters to get an idea of what the story was about, witnessing a vampire singalong, an anointing in an old graveyard, a poet hearing voices at the top of a stairwell, and a man offering his soul to the vampires so he can see his dead wife. Really well acted and amazing set design as you wander the back halls of Hoxton Halls. I thoroughly enjoyed it, just make sure you fully engage and don't just wander in and out of scenes, or you'll have no idea what's going on!

tastemaker

Sadly like the rest of the reviews here I just wasn't scared! 


I'm not usually a fan of horror mazes, or actors jumping out at me, but I love immersive theatre and vampire stories so I thought this would be perfect for me. I loved the apprehension and getting dressed in the black cape and I thought the start really set the scene for something truly amazing. 


I do think perhaps I didn't go around the show as I was meant to. Me and my +1 headed in to the creepily beautifully bar first to get a drink instead of following an actor- which, I think if we had, we would have understood the whole story a lot better. As it turned out we were just having a great time opening doors and seeing what we found. 


The sets and costumes were beautiful, but I left not really fully understanding the story and not very scared. 

Tastemaker

Like Georgie I also expected to be terrified walking into here. I fully warned my +1 I would be shoving him in front of me and grabbing onto him for dear life- which he accepted with aplomb. These events were to never occur. 


You all start in one big room as the story starts to unfold. Suddenly you realise other audience members are actually part of the show and then you have to decide who to follow. It's like 'Choose Your Own Adventure' but it makes more sense to stick to one story. We had fun billowing to and fro in our capes but a lot of the time we were chasing our character around-- it was a pretty good workout. It ends with all the stories colliding back into the big room for the final chapter.


At one point, I got frightened the characters would 'turn' on the audience so I kept noting good hiding places when we suddenly became hunted, potentially sacrificing my +1. I can say I was not very scared at all (maybe I chose the wrong cast member to follow), and the 'do not talk to the cast' obviously kept us at a distance. 


With the price being at about £50 a ticket I would expect a bit more (be it horror/sh*t scared outta me/drinks), however given the elaborate set and brilliant cast-- I can also see why the price is this high. Of course, Secret Cinema is £75 and also does not include any extras, so again I guess this is in step with the London market. 


I really wanted to give this 4 stars, but the meh feeling I got walking out of there means I cannot. Had there been a bit more freaky/creepy moments to get my heart racing, it would have gotten there for sure. 

Tastemaker

After reading the blurb about this immersive theatre experience on their official website with warnings of ‘don’t dare go alone’, I was expecting to be scared to my core! I’ve been to other immersive theatre productions including Goosebumps Alive at the Vaults in London and NYC productions, Sleep No More (based on Macbeth) and Queen of the Night and sadly Hammer House of Horror Live was far from scary and to be brutally honest, I was so bored at times I checked my watch to see how much of the two hours left I had to endure! I can appreciate that the actors stayed in character, knew their lines and tried to bring the story to life and that the director coordinated well the movement of them throughout Hoxton Hall (which was well dressed!!), however, it was incredibly flat, I wasn’t excited, scared or interested. I really can’t believe that ticket prices range from £48.50 to £52.50!!! This was such a disappointment and not recommended! Goosebumps Alive made me scream out loud, I was happy when this show had finished so I could go home to bed. 

tastemaker

Have you ever been to a play and got a little bored just sitting there watching? Ever thought it would be cool to roam back stage and take a peek? Well with this fantastic night out you get to do just that! It seems to be a new trend of interactive theatre which I love! Sadly this one isn’t as interactive as Secret Cinema, where you can actually engage with the characters. It does, however feel like you are inside a horror movie.

Basically after the first scene, you get to follow a character around a multi storey building decked out in some of the most beautiful Victoria era sets I have seen. You get to see how the character you choose to follow interacts with different characters in the play piecing the story together as you go. …..or you could do as I did and randomly choose to follow different characters with pit stops by the bar, chill sessions on the amazing sets and silly fun times in the bath tub!

I thought the set design was stunning; such fantastic details and beautiful pieces of vintage furniture. The costumes were equally as inspiring, in particular, the female hive members have the most visually stunning jewellery I have seen in a long time – great inspiration on the lead up to Halloween!

The acting and singing was second to none, haunting and very moving, you really are drawn into another world. My only complaint was that the ending of the performance felt somewhat rushed but overall I think it was a good night out.

The cocktails are £8-9, wine is £5.50 and they only take cards. The cloak room is free of charge (score) and you get issued with a fantastic black velvet cape for the duration of your stay in the land of vampires!! ……enter if you DARE!

Tastemaker

I expected to be scared out of my wits during this experience, but the lack of any interaction between the actors and audience meant that I didn't get that kind of visceral fear reaction, and even though I hate being scared, I was a little disappointed. The storyline might be in keeping with the scary time of year, but this is quite a passive form of horror. Some of it is a little creepy but I wouldn't say this is a house of horrors, but rather a house of morbid fascination.


I felt that there were too many people within the audience meaning that it was really difficult to follow some of the characters - some of the rooms or areas weren't big enough, or the actors moved too quickly that you would lose them, then you'd end up walking mid-way into a new scene and feel a bit lost. In some cases, we didn't see some characters until the very end meaning that the final climax of the show didn't all make sense and fell a little flat.


It's quite expensive for what it is. Considering you can pay £60 for an immersive experience like Gingerline which includes food, drinks and interaction, £50 for this two-hour show is quite outrageous. I'd price it at around the £30 mark if you want to call it good value.


On a positive note, the set design is absolutely outstanding. Once we lost track of the storyline we decided to try and make sure we saw as much of the building and the rooms as possible - there are about four floors I think so there is a lot of walking and climbing/descending of stairs throughout the evening. It's very hot - a lack of A/C and the sheer number of bodies contributes to this, but there is a bar with London priced cocktails (around the £8-9 mark) to cool you down, and a small slither of a courtyard for a bit of fresh air. 


The costumes and make-up are fabulous. Very early 1800's vampire-chic which all looks very authentic and intriguing. You as the audience are given a cloak to wear which helps you to ignore each other as everyone becomes less distracting with their attire, so you're free to concentrate on the characters and the show.


I think with fewer people and a lower priced ticket (or a free drink or two) this is a really interesting and fun evening but in terms of immersive theatre, I think there is better in London to experience.

tastemaker

This is definitely an immersive theatre experience with a darker side to it. I must admit that I really wasn't sure what I was going into and was half expecting a bit of a haunted house experience tied in with the Vampire theme. Instead there was zero interaction from the actors and actresses with the audience. Intrigued, we started exploring the space, stumbling upon conversations between different characters. It took us a little while to understand that we really needed to just follow one character to delve into their story, once we did pick that up we had trouble trying to follow our chosen character around. Either there were too many people or the person we were following was so fast we couldn't keep up. Sometimes the person we chose to follow would be in between scenes and filling time and we felt as if we may be missing other important plots developing elsewhere. As a result it made the end scene a bit anti-climatic as we hadn't seen enough of some stories to understand what was happening.


The rooms were all decorated so well to the theme, I was particularly impressed with the mausoleum which definitely ticked the box of a dark and creepy atmosphere. All the costumes and performances all kept with this theme and were well executed.


Overall this was an enjoyable experience once we picked up on what we needed to do, however I don't think it is quite worth the price of the ticket, £50 is definitely excessive, but that is just my opinion.