Last year, I was lucky enough to participate in the ALONE experience. For those that don’t know about this unorthodox event, ALONE is more of an ‘existential’ horror happening, choosing to take guests on a journey where they face their fears and lose themselves in the process. Last year’s trip to ALONE saw me doing everything from having pillow fights with unicorns to being a potential mugging victim in a deserted alleyway. The ALONE Experience is somewhat of an enigma, somewhere in between a haunt and interactive theatre experience, both sensual and scary. Yes, I did just say sensual. It leaves one wondering what on earth just happened to them, surprised by their uninhibited reactions to occurrences and left with a strange feeling that the haunt is still going on hours after it has ended.
Like the experience itself, the creators Devon Paulson and Laurence Lewis are shrouded in mystery. Little information is available about the haunt online. Trusty Google can’t even unearth any solid evidence as to what the experience is about, so I should have known that when I asked them for an interview, it would not be a standard meeting.
The interview started out simple enough. We agreed to meet in a café in Los Feliz. Upon arrival Paulson and Lewis were nowhere to be seen. I waited… I texted them “I’m here” and immediately received a text back “W E K N O W” written in their trademark oddly spaced capitalized font. A bit strange I thought, but chose to ignore the weirdness. It was after about ten minutes that a peculiar middle-aged woman walked past me and spilt a glass of water over me “Sorry, I’m out of sorts. I think I’ve had too much to drink”, she warbled before she stumbled out of the door.
It was then that I noticed she had left a napkin on my table with some scrawled writing on it ‘WE DECIDED TO CHANGE THE ADDRESS’ with a new location scrawled across the tattered piece of paper. This immediately brought out my inner Nancy Drew, and I hastily hightailed it to the venue in question- another busy Hollywood café. Upon entering a man who looked like he was out of 70’s espionage film (but not in an over the top way) got up from his table and walked with purpose towards me holding a manila folder with my name on it. No words were exchanged as he brushed past me, stealthily placing the folder in my hands as he briskly left the café. For a moment, I thought I had imagined his existence, but the folder in my hands was enough to snap me out of it and make me realize that this was actually happening.
The folder contained an mp3 player with some headphones that when played instructed me to leave the café and take a walk on this typically stunning LA afternoon. The atmospheric music playing in my ears provided a cinematic soundtrack as I followed the instructions of the somber, almost hypnotizing voice. My perception was high as everyday people did everyday things – gardening, walking the dog, repairing the gate. I looked at them, and they looked at me back. I was suspicious. Were they in on this too?
Suddenly, from behind, I was grabbed and thrown into the back of a U-Haul with the rear door shut tight. Sitting in the dark, I hear the engine start as we begin to move. A series of turns later, we stop and the rear door is opened. Two men stand in front of me but don’t say a word. I tentatively walk out of the U-Haul and am ushered to a front door of a building. Inside is dark and eerie. A slowed down, warped version of Tommy James and The Shondells ‘I Think We’re Alone Now’ is playing, permeating the room.
A man stands at the bottom of the stairs waiting for me, and points for me to walk up the stairs into the darkness. At the top of the stairs, I walk until I come to a wall. I turn around to find the man has followed me. He points to the wall. I push against it to find that it is a false wall and behind it is a small screening room. The seats are empty except for a handful of mannequins blindfolded. The atmospheric music is playing through the speakers, and this time it accompanied by a spectrum of colors projected onto a screen. I walk in to psychedelic swirl of color and sound to find Paulson and Lewis waiting for me. This was my interview, and somehow this best represented the mystique these artists have painstakingly created. I did find out that they are expanding their venture and taking it overseas as well as starting a high-end intimate experience that begins in 2016.
ALONE runs from October 17th to November 1st.
For tickets and dates go to http://www.thealoneexperience.com/dates-tickets/