Dark Hour: From Haunts to Heroes


Aveesa Bhayani

Masks sculpted and painted in-house for Dark Hour’s Halloween show.

The wolf-man stands in a dark corner of the Dark Hour Haunted House. Amidst the silence, he can hear the trigger of the animatronic in the next room. As he prepares for his haunt, he visualizes his prey; following the animatronic, the group will make a right turn, only to be met with yet another monster. Creative Director Allen Hopps puts on his costume every night at 6:30 p.m. He wanders the house of his own creations as just another employee, scaring customers. 

“When I’m in the show that way, I feel like I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing,” Hopps said. “There’s nowhere else I ought to be; nothing else is as big of a deal as me doing what I’m supposed to be doing.”

Within the world of Dark Hour lies a coven of thirteen witches. Led by Viktoria Frankenstein, the witches feed on the fear of those who walk through the house to fuel the dark hour: a spell meant to plunge the world into another dimension.

“When you walk into Dark Hour, it kind of feels like a movie,” actor Tori Yeager said. 

There are many things that make this immersive experience so special. One of the most notable is that nearly every prop, costume, and set piece, are entirely handmade. From Pinterest board to reality, Hopps works with a crew of people to bring the coven to life.  

“Normally we will establish an area that we want a certain character to be in and then we will ask ‘what’s the scariest, wow-inducing, creature or character that we can put in that area,’” Hopps said.

From there, Hopps and his team will determine all mediums needed for a particular project. This helps determine the practicality of a project. When bringing imaginations to life, sometimes less is better. When a simplified version is drafted, the crew works together to create the monsters from their dreams.

“It’s like having a monster in my head, working on it and then I see it walking around and scaring people,” Hopps said. “It was an idea and now it’s a physical thing. I think that is easily the coolest part of my job.”

The intricacy of the setting highlights Hopps’ passion for haunts. Along with his passion comes an exclusive perspective on the world of horrors. 

 “Our whole job at haunted houses is to make people into heroes,” Hopps said. “What I mean by that is when a guest goes through a haunt, that excitement that they feel is that they survived. An antelope never feels as alive as it does when it just got away from a lion that was trying to catch it.”

An unexpected yet common theme within the house of fears is the bonds that are made. 

“We watch bonding moments happen in the house,” actor Kaleigh Ray said. “A son will be grabbing onto their dad and the dad will immediately become the superhero protecting them from the monsters.” 

Fear, while at the surface may seem unpleasant, draws in the interest of a variety of consumers every fall. As the spooky season draws to a close, the line circling Dark Hour Haunted House grows as everyone lines up for one last scare. 

“[There are] things that bother us and frustrate us and make us afraid: taxes, relationships, the political climate right now,” Hopps said. “All of those things are super stress-inducing, but that’s not something you could cry or scream about. [Customers] take all of that anxiety into the haunt with them; we scare them, put a face on [their fears] for them and they scream and let it out. When you scare someone in the haunt, they scream, run three steps, and then they laugh.”