Here in the UK, our thirst for terror has been rapidly growing with scare events popping up all over the country. The most popular scare attractions seem to be the desperately-trying mazes at Thorpe Park and the various zombie survival experiences. But for hardened horror fans, these haunts just aren’t thrilling enough, so we’ve demanded… simulated torture. This was just a gore hound’s dream until recently, when Cracked: Survival Experience reared its bloody head.
This extreme event is a mix between competitive elimination and mental endurance, and is currently the most brutal event in the UK. Cracked has experimental elements, which will include bounding, gagging, man handling, water and electrical effects, feeding and physical torture. Sounds like a barrel of laughs, right? Not only have I secured myself a place in this psychological nightmare, but I also caught up with co-creator Rosalie Woodward to find what fate lies ahead.
“We actually met online on the Reservations Facebook group for McKamey Manor – that’s where Blake reached out about his idea.” Whilst waiting to be accepted into the most extreme and disturbing haunt in the USA, psychology student Blake Ciccone, from Ohio, aired his idea for a similar haunt in the UK. That’s when Rosalie sent him a message and they started sharing their twisted ideas.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, having been to almost every scare attraction we have to offer and lots in the US too, and Blake’s been making home haunts back in his garden in Ohio since he was a kid, so we’re all pretty passionate about the subject.” From there, Darren Smith messaged Blake and their terrorsome trio began.
Rosalie is adamant that putting this together wasn’t about inflicting pain, but “more about giving them a controlled environment to face their fears, to give them that true adrenaline rush that they seek.” However, it seems being a creator of such an extremity, does include some fun, “There’s definitely something fun about making a grown man scream like a little girl…”
The question of psychology plays a large part in attractions such as Cracked. Why would you want to put yourself through that? Similar questions us horror lovers receive from non-believers (shun them). “We’ve actually based most of our “rooms” on psychological experiments.” The aspect of desensitisation to horror is credible, with more of us seeking something that pushes us to limits and tests our ability to survive – it’s the most thrilling type of extreme “sports”. “It could also be said people are becoming desensitised to horror due to violence and gruesome imagery in video games, movies and even on the news. People are now beginning to seek out these more extreme experiences.”
“With Cracked being an elimination challenge, starting with ten people who will compete against each other in tasks until we have just one final winner – we think the competitive streak inside each individual is really going to come out and drive them to complete it. After all, who doesn’t want to be the last man standing?” The truth is, we all want to be seen as the winner, the survivor, the last man (or woman!), but how far are we allowed to go, in order to complete these challenges?
“We have to deal with slightly stricter rules being in the UK than the likes of other extreme experiences overseas, but we are being very meticulous when it comes to safety and we have many procedures in place to prevent any accidents.” So maybe once we’re in the haunt we won’t be allowed to bash each others brains in – thank you health and safety regulations – but the event is “primarily working on the psychological fear of a person”, which is worse than a fight to the death. “Don’t count on your friends for help as it’s going to be every man for himself in there.”
The event will start with ten players who are transported to an undisclosed location and then each contestant is pitted against one another (beware – my friends believe I have a tendency for murder) until one is left. “But don’t be fooled, when you’re eliminated from the main game, the horror is only just beginning. I can’t stress enough that you really don’t want to be eliminated!”
That’s all I could squeeze out of Rosalie about the event, as the more we don’t know, the more surprising and terrifying the haunt can be. If you didn’t already know, Rosalie is one of the few scare junkies that’s experienced McKamey Manor, however after “five minutes I was DONE. Russ McKamey is a genius: the Manor had gotten inside my head long before I even entered. I was begging to leave in the first few minutes but it was well over 30 hellish minutes though before they’d actually let me out!”
I’m praying to Satan that Cracked won’t be quite as traumatising as the infamous McKamey Manor, but “there’s a lot to be said for the power of the imagination and while, of course, there’ll be a lot of physical elements in Cracked, we’ll be using a lot of psychological horror and suspense too. It’s really just a case of finding the right catalyst for each person to tap into his or her individual fears.” Do I let them know I’m afraid of clowns, piers, donuts and the sea? Nope.
For those of you poor souls brave enough to enter the realm of the unknown (and for my own peace of mind) Rosalie advices, “You do not have to be the strongest or fastest, but to endure the experience you will need a strong will and be prepared to deal with some of the most uncomfortable situations of your life. This experience has been specifically crafted to push your psychological boundaries. There are no ghosts, there are no zombies: your imagination will be your own worst enemy.”
If Rosalie has tantalised your irrational side, and you want to see whether you’ll fight or fly when put in dangerous, horrendous and bloodcurdling circumstances; go face your fears and secure your place on the “To Mentally Disturb” list.
– Tickets are £70 each; pay £20 deposit now and £50 by the 1st March
– Event dates: Fri 17th April, Sat 18th April and Fri 24th April
– The location is secret, but it will be in the WF4 Wakefield/Leeds area