‘Real’ scary: Our reporter barely survives serial killer–themed escape room

‘Real’ scary: Our reporter barely survives serial killer–themed escape room
Before the fright: Our brave reporter prepares to be kidnapped by an eerie attendant in the escape room game “This is Real.”
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

It is terrifying, it is gross, and it is a lot of fun.

“This is Real” is a scary, serial killer–themed escape room, opening on Sept. 24 in Red Hook. I love scary movies, so I volunteered for the interactive horror experience — but when things got “real,” it seriously creeped me out.

When I got to the venue, a seemingly abandoned warehouse on the edge of Red Hook, I was greeted by an eerily dressed doorman and given a lengthy contract to sign. This is was my first temptation to turn away, as I agreed to be taunted and tied up, but I was still eager to experience this thrill ride.

After I gave my full consent to participate and put on a full-body jumpsuit, the doorman confiscated my bag and phone, blindfolded me, bound my hands behind my back and led me down a long hallway to a seat. So far, I was fine. But once I fought my way out of the ropes and removed the blindfolds, I considered calling it quits.

Outside my dark cell was a freakish torture scene so disturbing that I briefly put my blindfold back on! And through a pair of headphones, I could listen in on the psychotic torturers and their victim — which revealed some useful info among the nauseating dialogue and blood-curdling screams.

Like a typical escape room challenge, you have to be attentive, think fast, and explore your surroundings — but you must employ those skills while under intense, frightening pressure. You must dig around your cell quickly, before your captor returns — repeatedly — to taunt you with sadistic threats, as well as communicate with fellow prisoners who are trapped in rooms nearby, without attracting outside attention.

Tortured soul: This figure from “This is Real” acts just as creepy as he looks, and is even more frightening when you hear him talk.
Michael Sharkey

Germaphobes beware: to push forward, you will have to reach into murky liquids, and endure being sprayed by some substance. You must also make contact with at least one of the actors, all of whom remain frighteningly in character.

And the closer you get to escape, the more eerie and physical it gets, as suspenseful music, voices, and flickering lights intensify around you. Another prisoner and I finally put our heads together to unlock a secret contraption, and had to run as fast as we could while being chased, dodging past more actors who tried to restrain us. After it all, I was sweating profusely and coming off an adrenalin high. I would not have gotten through it without testing my limits and a partner.

After completing the mission, I was happy to meet three of the actors — until one of the torturers came out, still in costume, and waved to me — then I had to hightail it out of there! I’m glad I did this during the daytime, because I can’t imagine coming out to darkness after leaving that experience.

If there’s anything I learned about myself during the ordeal, it’s that if I ever find myself kidnapped in real life, I’m probably going to die.

“This is Real” at 153 Coffey St. between Ferris and Conover Streets in Red Hook, www.thisisreal.nyc. Opens Sept. 24. Tue–Fri, 7 pm and 9 pm; Sat., 5

pm, 7 pm, 9 pm; Sun, 3 pm, 5 pm, 7 pm. $95–$110.

And after: Reporter Alexandra Simon holds onto a construction beam for support after an unsettling almost-hour trying to survive the game.
Photo by Stefano Giovannini

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