Among the collection of creative retail spaces and chic restaurants in ROW DTLA, a modern art gallery promising an “immersive, multisensory experience” fits right in. In fact, if you were to wander in off the street with no prior knowledge of the twisted minds of the creators of Creep L.A., you might see the sign advertising “Haus of Creep” and think, I should check out that gallery someday.
But Haus of Creep is a performance, not a static art gallery. It’s also not a play that you can just sit back and watch. And unlike other theatrical-type immersive haunts, where you might be asked to hide in a closet or help an actor look for a clue in a drawer or something, each guest in Haus of Creep becomes a part of the cast, and the line is truly blurred between actors and viewers, sets and actual spaces, and props and real art.
The setup is this: It’s opening night of the “Haus of Creep” art show, and you’re invited. As you wait outside for the doors to open, you’ll meet some of the artists, curators, critics, and other guests, some of whom have traveled as far as London to be there. You get to know them, and they get to know you. You might receive a few warnings about some of the artists as well as the “living art” inside. Talk with the art critics and other visitors, and don’t be afraid to eavesdrop on conversations. You’ll learn a lot about the story and characters from what seems like a waiting area but is really the first scene of the experience. Honestly, it’s all so well done that you won’t even realize the show has already started. So pay attention.
In fact, that’s our top tip for Haus of Creep: PAY ATTENTION. You’ll be thinking about this show long after it’s ended. So you’ll want to remember the details as you try to work out how you feel about what happens during the performance.
So yes, onto the performance. When the doors open, you’ll find yourself in the reception area of the gallery, where you can wander around to look at the art and converse with others. If you sign the guestbook you’ll receive a little pocket fan, which can help you to get into your own new character, someone who’s looking for their next big art purchase. After passing through a hallway with glorious little peek holes along the wall (worth a look), you’ll eventually be led into a lounge area that serves beer and wine (only $5 a glass, and we recommend you grab one to loosen up a bit). Then you’re free to wander around the entire gallery as you like. You can go pretty much wherever you want and be sure to get a map of the gallery to navigate yourself around. It truly looks like an actual art gallery, with connected rooms and corridors, and works spread throughout the space. A central performance area is used to introduce some of the characters and the “living” works of art.
Although you can wander at your leisure, the actors make sure that everyone gets the full experience. Separate rooms host small-group performances or even “solo” experiences. In this way, we can pretty much guarantee that you will be split from your group for at least part of the night, and most guests will have a one-on-one experience at some point. There is definitely touching, but we didn’t experience anything rough, and most of it is simply to guide you where the actors want you to go. You will also see gory, erotic and perverse imagery accompanied with some nudity.
All this to say that Creep isn’t for the conservative or closed minded. You may have some of your boundaries pushed but the cast is careful not to fully cross them and seem to know when to pull back if you can’t handle it. Conversely, they have their own boundaries too just in case you’re the type that has none.
We don’t want to give away too many details about the experience or storyline, because not knowing what will happen is an essential part of the evening. Also, no two guests will have the same experience, so even if we told you what we saw and heard, it’s likely to be totally different from what you’ll go through. The show feels completely organic yet well structured: the events unfold in real time, relationships between the actors change, and you start to feel a sense of dread as you realize something major is about to happen.
Finally, we want to emphasize that Haus of Creep is one of the most thought-provoking “haunts” we’ve been in. The show not only satirizes the commercialization of art and nearly abusive treatment of artists but also points out the hypocrisy of violence as entertainment. In the final scene, as bodies lay strewn around the room, a smattering of awkward clapping broke out. We were pushed toward the door, forced to step over the corpses of people we had just interacted with for the past hour. The thrill of gore and violence brings people in droves to haunted attractions, but when violence happens to someone we know, it’s abhorrent. Haus of Creep blurs that line, too, and forces us to feel something we’ve never felt in a Halloween attraction before: guilt.
This year marks the fifth anniversary of Creep L.A., and each year’s production has been more sophisticated, more impressive, and yes, more creepy, than the last. Theatrical Halloween events have become increasingly popular in Los Angeles over the past few years, but “Haus of Creep” truly elevates the concept. This show is no longer a simple “immersive haunt experience” but has crossed a line to be considered a true work of performance art. The show features a mind-bendingly “meta” storyline set against a collection of disturbing and uncomfortable scenes that you just can’t look away from. And the whole thing is guided by an excellent cast of actors, who not only have to deliver the underlying story but also have to navigate through a gradual but distinct change in tone and mood as the evening devolves into chaos, all while being quick to improvise as they interact with guests.
Haus of Creep is not to be missed this year. Get your tickets NOW before it sells out. And if you have friends who are looking for a spooky themed event but aren’t into mazes and jump scares, consider bringing them to the smart and stylish Haus of Creep. And buy a t-shirt on the way out.
CREEP: HAUS OF CREEP RATINGS