The CDC, hazmat suits and an outbreak.
On Halloween Eve, I drove down to the terrifying town of Hilldale — also known as Norco during any other time of the year. In this town, a treacherous tale comes to life in an immersive drive-thru experience put on by Fright Farms. And the storyline is scary close to reality.
Upon arrival, attendees line up car by car, as the 35-minute experience is designed to be socially distanced. Attendees are also required to wear masks outside of their vehicles, and high traffic areas are cleaned regularly.
At the main gate, the spooky tale begins. An officer, who guides the cars to safety, advises attendees to turn their radios to a specific station. This live radio station unleashes the eerie story of Hilldale and the citizens of the town.
As the cars begin to slowly roll through Hilldale, it’s revealed that an accidental chemical spill has occurred. The chemicals have seeped their way into the local water supply and mutations are beginning to materialize. To ensure the audience is not a part of the mutants, cars are carefully inspected. This issues an eerie real feeling among the attendees.
In the time of COVID-19, we are consistently conducting self and professional exams with help from the Center for Disease Control (CDC). In the town of Hilldale, the CDC is just as prevalent. Dressed in hazmat suits, CDC officials inspect each of us from a distance with deadly stares. The hazmat suits were practical, but also added to the overall sinister feeling.
The all-too-real storyline continues, as the outbreak spreads to a local diner. There are zombie-like creatures wearing blood-stained clothing carrying axes. The creatures lunge towards your window causing you to itch with fear. As you escape the daunting diner, you discover one family has been particularly affected by the outbreak, the Parker family.
Brody Parker, the son, becomes addicted to the chemical substance. Emma Parker, his sister, intervenes, soon dragging her boyfriend, Latch, into the situation. A deep, raspy voice via the live radio station discloses the story while actors and props surround the vehicles.
As the characters strive to save the town of Hilldale from Brody and the deadly disease, attendees follow in their tracks. Throughout this journey, screeches, banging, hidden attacks and suspense fill the dark air. Although viewers are safe within the confines of their cars, they are in the middle of the action. After all, the mutants interact by creeping up to car windows.
While the Hilldale tale is a sci-fi thriller, the outbreak is the real terror. We have been battling our own wave of disease for months, and Fright Farms shows how spine-chilling it is. But the infected tale was just unsettling enough with the right amount of alarm.
Fright Farms is an immersive escapade that ironically plays on the current circumstances. And in a time where much is on hold, unleash the horror Hilldale has to offer during the Halloween season.
To purchase tickets to Fright Farms, visit frightfarms.com. The experience runs until Nov. 29, and attendees must be at least 13 years of age. Not So Spooky Farm tickets are also available.