Are you ready to plumb the depths of your fear? Universal has announced its next original haunted house for this year’s Halloween Horror Nights, and it looks to be a doozy: Depths of Fear.
Set within a deep-sea underwater mining rig, the workers have dug too deeply into the ocean floor and accidentally unleashed a parasitic race dubbed the Mouthbrooders, who “spew flesh-eating acidic eggs at human hosts.” You will be forced to work your way through the facility, fending off these “slithering monsters” and infected miners who have now been transformed into crazed hosts alike – all while a self-destruct sequence counts down in the background, adding to the claustrophobia and intensity.
If the underwater haunt sounds familiar, that’s because Knott’s Scary Farm debuted its own version of the concept just last year: called, funnily enough, The Depths, the maze was set in the ‘40s and cast guests as first responders being sent into the complex labyrinth of underwater caves that sits beneath the abandoned port village of Nightwatch, where a mining crew has just gone missing. Local folklore holds that this seaside shore area is home to the likes of ancient sea creatures, shipwrecks filled with treasure, and, even, prehistoric amphibious humanoids, and the haunt delivers on all that backstory, populating its experience with such denizens as tentacled monsters that come straight out of H.P. Lovecraft (an author who, in turn, informed one of Universal’s own houses from last year, Seeds of Extinction).
What made the experience so noteworthy – perhaps, even, to Universal’s own designers – was the heavy implementation of creaking sound effects, moving floors, and, most especially, fog that was combined with LED lights to make it look as if it were the surface of water (and to effectively hide anything that might be lurking underneath it). If Depths of Fear comes anywhere close to this level of implementation – and certainly if it’s combined with Universal’s decades of expertise and mastery in this arena – then HHN attendees this year should be in for something truly special.
But Knott’s Scary Farm isn’t the only possible influence to be picked out by an examining eye here – there are more than a few hints of the classic, 40-year-old Alien franchise, which features otherworldly creatures that possess acidic blood and implant eggs directly into their human prey, and some of Universal’s designers have recently commented that they’ve just picked up the now-iconic videogame BioShock, a title which first released in August 2007 and which revolves around a beautiful, Art Deco underwater safe haven that comes to be overrun by genetically-engineered madmen and huge, lumbering bodyguards known as Big Daddies.
Depths of Fear will join Stranger Things, Nightingales: Blood Pit, and Universal Monsters at Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights, which runs for a record-breaking 41 select nights, from Friday, September 6 to Saturday, November 2.