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News / Theater & Performance

A 'Saw' film director is opening a 24-room horror house in Boyle Heights

The Tension Experience
Image: Courtesy The Tension Experience

In The Tension Experience: Ascension, the newest immersive terror performance hitting LA, the horror is personal. As a participant, you’ll have an experience that has been personalized to freak you, specifically, out as much as possible.

Throughout a 24-room home in Boyle Heights, The Tension Experience is an elaborate labyrinth developed over seven months by director Darren Lynn Bousman, as the LA Times reports. His name might already be familiar to horror-genre fans as the director of several Saw movies, but as the franchise continued he grew bored, eventually finding that live theater experiences piqued his interest more.

Before moving to the current house setting, an earlier phase of the show took place in an abandoned warehouse. The only way to know it was happening was to stumble across a Facebook page that featured a single image containing a hidden string of numbers. If you could break the code, you would find a phone number, staffed by an actor who would give you a time and address. Upon arrival, an uneasy personal consultation would take place and then, the next day, participants would be taken on a real-world journey following the terrifying clues. For this version of the production, the entire experience is encapsulated within the two-hour visit and tickets are sold in advance.

Rather than a traditional haunted house with monsters that jump out and grab you, the narrative in the current show, The Tension Experience: Ascension, is one of being taken through a cult indoctrination where you meet with actors talk to you about the torments they have suffered—which are likely to relate to the very things you admitted you fear most. 

With his film background, Bousman wants the experience to feel like each participant is the lead character in their own horror flick. Only those willing to embrace the psychological terror need apply.

The Tension Experience: Ascension runs on Thursday through Sunday nights from September 8 to October 2, with entries at 7pm, 8pm and 9pm. Tickets are available online for $125 per person for a two-hour experience, attendees must be 18 or older.

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