Written and Illustrated by Ian Kay

My hometown produces a haunted house for Halloween every year. I designed a section of it, and in its initial year, I also constructed and performed in it.

The project was low-budget, so instead of relying upon effects or jump scares, this section was designed to make the audience just as responsible for scaring themselves as the actual haunted house.

The Attraction

This is Ian.

Yes, Ian is a zombie, but don’t worry, he’s not dangerous.  Look, his favorite show is on!

So long as he’s watching it, he won’t attack us.  Heck, he won’t even move!

He's so still, we might mistake him for a mannequin.

That is, unless we block the TV.

To be clear, he never actually wants to hurt us; he just wants to watch his show. The second we're out of his way, he returns to neutral.

Unfortunately, we must cross in front of him. That's how we exit! The door is right between him and the TV.

Notice that alternate route? In theory, it's ideal! We can use that door without crossing in front of Ian. In practice, of course, it's not that simple.

It turns out that we're in one of four identical rooms. Each room has four walls, and each wall has its own door, but some of the doors don't actually open.

If we're brave enough to cross in front of Ian, then we can pass straight through, avoiding two of the rooms altogether.

This is rare. Most people take the alternate route, which leads them into a maze full of false choices, and ultimately, right back to Ian.

Often times, they prefer to triple-check all of the doors in the maze, approaching each one as if it's a landmine, rather than facing an antagonist who is literally not doing anything.

It's also not uncommon to have a whirlpool of disoriented people cycling through the rooms. At any given moment, the least crowded space in the maze is by the exit.

The strength of this design is its simplicity: six walls, six fake doors, six real doors, a television, and a zombie. No other effects or performers are needed, because most of the actual horror is left to us!