When HuffPost Live sent hosts Caitlyn Becker and Christian Nilsson to explore a completely different kind of haunted house experience, they had no idea just how different it would be.
Participants might expect costumed actors to get into their faces, but what Caitlyn and Christian found was an experience that got into their heads.
They arrived at Nyctophobia (Nyctophobia is an abnormal fear of darkness), a privately run Halloween-experience out on Long Island, completely unaware of what was in store. Before they knew it, Caitlyn and Christian were blindfolded and tossed into the back of a van.
"The basic idea behind the beginning of this is building up suspense so you're on-edge when you go in," said Eric Striffler, the founder of Nyctophobia. "Wondering, 'Am I seeing things? Am I hearing things?' Then you're going into the dark."
Going into it, Caitlyn and Christian were under the impression they would be walking through Nyctophobia together. Two minutes in, they were pulled apart.
Abandoned, Caitlyn panicked. "Okay, I know I'm not supposed to talk," she ranted. "But I lost my camera guy, I lost Christian, I lost the other camera guy. This is not funny!"
She was completely in the dark; no sets, no decorations. It was just her and darkness.
"I absolutely love, in the dark, making people think things that just aren't there," Striffler added.
In a normal "haunted house" experience, actors are jumping out, startling you at every turn. Here, they were just there. Talking. Rather than scaring Caitlyn and Christian... Caitlyn and Christian scared themselves.
At one point, they were individually brought into a room where they were interrogated by a man who promised "to get to know you better, and, hopefully, get you to know you better." He questioned their life choices, and latched on to their regrets.
"Being honest is such an important part of it," Striffler said."Because you want to give yourself to it to get out of it, what we're giving you."
There was an incredible amount of trust between the hosts and the actors. Caitlyn and Christian didn't know any of these people, and knew they were trying to mess with them.
Still, there they were; walking into the darkness, taking their direction of when to take a step up or step down. That trust was tested when the actors demanded Christian blindly drink out of a cup. Despite what he was told afterwards, he swore it wasn't just water.
"My mind was racing. 'What does this taste like? It's bitter. Slightly sweet? Should I spit it out?' Then I was told it was tap water."
At no point during Nyctophobia did Caitlyn and Christian scream, but maybe that's because it wasn't meant to.
"It made you think of something," Striffler said. "Whatever that is, is up to you. I just want people to think. I want people to relate. I want people to sort of ask questions of themselves that they haven't considered before."
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