A journey into fear, brutalising the boundaries of theatre and theme parks.
The Facility is a horror maze built in Birmingham but constructed in the consciousness of the customers. Imagine a twisted hybrid of The Twilight Zone, Crystal Maze and Shawshank but with dizzying disorientation and in your face frights. People arrive as happy customers but are dragged into a sadistic scientific experiment and become the lab rats in the cage. A cage welded together from nightmares and insanity, emanating from the brilliantly twisted minds of the creators. Queuing to be processed in The Facility unsettles the punters. Initially chatty, a skirling soundscape soon stuns their innocent insouciance. Screams from processed victims and howls from within the walls sows disquiet in their bones. Knowing they are about to be processed but with absolutely no idea what that means, they could walk away, they could choose to leave. But then the steel door opens. Like lambs to the slaughter, they file in fearfully. No longer punters, they are now experimental subjects.
And then it begins.
Ordered by anonymous military and medical personnel, subjects are selected, numbered and told to obey the strict rules. Resistance, in the best Vogon tradition, is futile. Any subject foolish enough to revolt against authority is guided, in no uncertain terms, back on to the painful path of processing. The disorientation and psychological pressure increases inexorably. There are no safe spaces within The Facility or the swirling psyches of subjects. Computer-driven effects amplify and enhance the true special effects; the staff and permanent patients of The Facility. Played by an excellent team of actors, they expose the subjects to madness, not at arms' length but barely at nose length. They know the secret ways through the maze, enabling them to appear from every unexpected direction.
All sense of time and orientation is taken from the subjects, and the only way out is a harrowing descent into the darkened depths of The Facility. Contorted patients scream from the cells and writhe in their shackles. They are the victims of the sadistic scientists, now merely statistics of medical failure. Like irradiated incubi and savage succubi, they want to share their infection with the processed subjects, enticing, entreating and excoriating. I thought I was protected by rationality as I analysed The Facility. When the walls moved and patients roared, I recalled the classic Psychology experiments conducted by Zimbardo and Milgram. My sang-froid was swiftly shattered by a psychotic patient wielding my personal phobia and I ran from The Facility with the other screaming subjects.
If you are brave, or foolish enough to be processed, you can book your journey into fear on twistedattractions.co.uk
Standard ticket price is £8.50 with special deals for groups and extreme experiences. Every single subject that I interviewed thought it was fantastic value and far better than any horror movie or theme park.
Please do read the warnings on the website very carefully and take heed. This is not a journey for the young, the infirm or faint hearted. Don't wear high heels and glamorous clothes. Even I dressed down for the occasion. Leave your bags and hats safely at reception and don't even think about taking a camera or phone. There are no opportunities for photography in The Facility. I only managed to smuggle out two photos.
Despite the psychological terror, The Facility is physically safe. Subjects are closely monitored and there are escape routes, so the only real danger is within the mind. You have been warned. Will you be processed in The Facility?