Week three of Halloween Horror Nights is poised to begin tomorrow, and I'm entering it with some changed opinions based on week two.
I shared my week one opinions with the caveat that they're always subject to change, and sure enough, they're already altered. Here are my Halloween Horror Nights haunted house rankings as we enter week three:
Havoc: This house is growing on me as I thought it would. It's broken into my top three, and I've discovered that I particularly love Team B. Each house has two casts which work in 45 minute sets, which is why I recommend going through more than once if you have time. The experiences can be quite different because the scareactors all bring their own style to their characters.
Evil Dead: This house is also growing on me and has knocked An American Werewolf in London out of my top three (more on that later). It was also better than my early favorite, Cabin in the Woods, last week in terms of jump scares. I had a couple of amazing run-throughs that catapulted it up my list, so it will be interesting to see if that stays true this weekend.
La Llorona: This house remains creepily consistent. It's a set design masterpiece, with changing environments as you work your way deeper into the story of the murdered children. It also has plenty of old school scares.
The Walking Dead: Still an energetic house with aggressive scareactors. I hope to retains that energy for the season, as it's a very solid and scary experience.
An American Werewolf in London: This topped my initial list because of the amazing realistic wolf puppets. I'm still awed by them, but at heart I'm old fashioned, and my favorite houses are always based more on human actors. Thus, while I still marvel at the special effects here, the more old-school houses have slipped higher in my rankings.
Afterlife: This house initially disappointed me because of the end, which is a spinning vortex leading to an exit ramp. Shrug. I want a bevy of creatures attacking me or some other type of high energy finale, and that's absent here. However, I'd admit that my run-through last week was actually great in terms of scares. Lop off the end and it would have been pretty much perfect, so this house does have lots of potential.
Cabin in the Woods: This started out as one of my favorite houses, and I certainly don't dislike it now, but most of my walk-throughs last week were rather lackluster. I still love the sets, and if I get some good scares this weekend it will be back up toward the top. It's going to have to work hard to beat the energy I encountered in Evil Dead, though.
Resident Evil: This isn't a bad house at all. It's only at the bottom of my list because it didn't wow me in any particular way last week. I had some rather dull walk-throughs, with no scares, so that dropped it down, but it could easily pop higher this weekend.
Overall, it's been an interesting year because I can't remember another time when my opinions were so all over. Normally I start out with favorite houses that remain on top for me throughout the season. Often there's one "sleeper" that grows on me, but otherwise my favorites are obvious. This year, I have no clue where my mind will be by the end of the year. I have to admit, that adds an enjoyable element as I never know quite what to expect.
If you'd like the back stories for all the haunted houses, jump to this article and video.