In perhaps the most interesting Halloween Horror Nights 31 announcement, Universal Orlando Resort revealed today what the newest haunted house would be. Ladies and gentlemen, The Weeknd.
You heard that right — The Weeknd (born Abel Makkonen Tesfaye), Canadian-born singer/songwriter and pop icon, will have his own house at Halloween Horror Nights 2022. But how, you may ask? What would a haunted house look like if inspired by an entertainer? We’ve got a few ideas.
For one thing, let’s establish the music and artistry of The Weeknd. A mixture of pop, soul, R&B, and rock n’ roll, all with an 80s overlay, is the best way to identify the genre intersectionality of his music. His music videos are structured by synth-heavy musical drives, flamboyant costuming, and makeup artistry that is heavily reminiscent of Michael Jackson. “Blinding Lights,” one of his most popular songs, fully exemplifies these qualities.
But frequently underneath those poppy synth drives are extremely troubling lyrics and messaging. Therefore, it’s not a huge leap forward to say that the maze announced today will play off the haunting artistry The Weeknd has cultivated in recent years. He has pushed his image in various ways, challenging notions of gender and other conventional standards. He does this even in his own imagery outside of his music videos — during pre and early-pandemic red carpets, while promoting his album After Hours (2020), The Weeknd famously showcased a (fake) beat-up and bloodied face and officially invited controversy into his ethos as an artist and musician.
His discography showcases this invitation and exploration into the macabre, controversial, and simply taboo. After Hours is an album laced with lyrics of cynicism and hopelessness, and the accompanying music videos include blatant depictions of domestic violence, murder, and even necrophilia. While those elements are all clearly and outwardly violent, some of the most unsettling aspects of the music videos for After Hours is simply the voyeuristic nature in which they’re shot, suggesting that the viewer is highly complicit in the actions of those on screen.
After Hours is an album confessing curiosity and willingness to participate in death. A prime example of this (that would translate well into a maze, in our opinion) is as follows: in “In Your Eyes,” After Hours, a woman is pursued by her abuser in a stressful chase sequence. She eventually overtakes him and decapitates him, celebrating her victory by taking the decapitated head to a dance club to, you guessed it, party on. The club is confirmed to be within the house.
The decapitated head from “In Your Eyes” makes another appearance later in the album in “Too Late.” In perhaps the edgiest video from that album, The Weeknd makes a scathing and non-subtle observation about pop culture, the entertainment industry, and Hollywood in general. The setting of the video takes place in the Hollywood Hills, a place that holds a history of high-profile murders and crimes, from the Black Dahlia cold case to the Tate Murders. It’s in this backdrop that two young women are in the process of arriving home from plastic surgery procedures when they come upon the decapitated head. Instead of being disgusted by the head and reporting it to the police, they are enthralled by the beauty of the face and take the head home to their Hollywood mansion. The video is clear to show the serene neighborhood and the impressive facade of the house in high contrast to the disturbing things happening inside its walls. With lyrics such as “We’re in hell, it’s disguised as a parade with flashing lights,” it’s hard to miss the message here – that even in (or perhaps most especially in) the places that carry beauty and affluence, at our core we are animals with a propensity for evil. This will be the overarching theme of the house, surviving Los Angeles.
Entertainment Weekly received additional information regarding the haunted attraction. The house will feature six songs by The Weeknd: “After Hours,” “In Your Eyes,” “Heartless,” “Blinding Lights,” “Save Your Tears” (solo version), and “Too Late.” You will be welcomed into The Weeknd’s imagination and then journey through three distinct sections. After witnessing the aforementioned club, you will visit a Las Vegas-themed hotel and a “subterranean metro tunnel.”
We know it’s elements like these that will make this completely new house a great one. We’ll leave you today with one lyric that best summarizes the overlap between The Weeknd and HHN: “You risk it all to feel alive.”
Halloween Horror Nights 2022 runs on select nights from September 2 to October 31.
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