Club Fear - Nightmares: 2018 Review

Club Fear, Santa Clarita, CA

Happy Halloween, folks! We’ve been tearing through as many haunted attractions as we can this past month and a half, and our coverage train of the very many haunted attractions in Southern California isn’t stop anytime soon! Today, we pick up off of last night’s Santa Clarita layover with another home haunt in the same general neighborhood. This time around, it’s Club Fear, a third year haunt which presents its Nightmares maze this season!

 There’s a small but beautiful front yard graveyard at Club Fear.

There’s a small but beautiful front yard graveyard at Club Fear.

Club Fear enjoys the unique position of being one the best positioned home haunts we’ve ever visited. Situated at the very end of a cul-de-sac, at the high point of the street, Club Fear makes quite a first visual impression as visitors drive up, cresting the viewline hill and setting eyes upon what feels like a towering two story residence anchoring the end of the street. Lit up in green and purple, with a cobweb-filled facade framing right in front and a near full moon rising just over the ridge of the house, Club Fear is a sensational sight. In fact, the facade itself may be the most dramatic and striking we’ve ever seen from a home haunt—so arresting is the visual impact.

 A killer clown greets guests as they enter, but not necessarily at the angle guests think!

A killer clown greets guests as they enter, but not necessarily at the angle guests think!

Guests approaching on foot are greeted by Michael Myers—the subject of many nightmares through the years, wandering the road and searching for fresh victims. He’s the only street character in front of Club Fear (or at least was when we stopped by), but he sends guests screaming and sometimes running back down the street with but a simple lunge toward the targets in question.

Those who can evade the infamous Halloween killer find themselves in a line waiting to move onto one of two stationing queue areas, although guests who donate $5 can take advantage of a front of the line option to bypass the wait. A spooky soundscape and a yard display set an eerie mood for those queuing up, driving anticipation of the haunt itself.

 This hall of faceless masks was very well executed at Club Fear.

This hall of faceless masks was very well executed at Club Fear.

Compressed into the footprint of a three-car garage—with a small extended set built just outside the front facade of the house, Club Fear is not a terribly long maze, but it manages to fit a surprising amount of content into the relatively small footprint. By virtue of winding back and forth in and around itself, Club Fear extends the experience and the frights. The preshow at the beginning also nicely establishes the mood before a sliding door opens, seemingly controlled by invisible hands.

Like many home haunts, Club Fear is an amalgamation of themes, from clowns to the swamp to an asylum and a haunted mine. To that end, it bears some similarities to Shiver Haunt, which we covered last night. But there’s definitely a more serious tone at Club Fear, with less jovial scares and less innocent spirit. Instead, the goal of the haunt is to tap into people’s fears and try to trigger that within the maze. At the same time, the vibe is not extreme and catered to adults only. Club Fear strikes a nice balance in between providing something scare but not so intense as to require a premature exit.

 Yes, they’ve got a laser swamp scene here as well. It’s definitely this season’s new hot toy.

Yes, they’ve got a laser swamp scene here as well. It’s definitely this season’s new hot toy.

Fortunately, Club Fear does relatively well with that regard. The scares are pretty clever, coming from less expected places and eschewing obvious startle tactics and positions for more surprising approaches. And though a couple more scareactors may have benefited the back half of the layout to maintain engaged and interactive interest, the projections and animatronics filled in well enough. The ending comes with a bit of a tonal shift, as singing pumpkins croon in front of a false facade of moonlight. I would have preferred something adrenaline-driving to close out the maze, but this works well enough to send people off and back into the night.

I’ll also confess to not being crazy about the donation for front-of-line privileges. It blurs the line between a home haunt done for fun and a commercial haunt trying to make profit. And while home haunts are certainly pricey, the front-of-line feature gives the impression of prioritizing monetary flow. I think a general donation bin would have been provided a better perception. (As a note: the donations are not taken for profit; owner Jason Shields uses the proceeds for thank you gifts to the actors and hosts. Creating and operating Club Fear costs far more than any donations take in.)

Ultimately, Club Fear is visually striking home haunt with arguably the best curb appeal of all the haunts we’ve seen thusfar and an impressive amount of haunt stuff into such a small space. What’s interesting is that when it first opened in 2016, this maze was located just down the street at the house of the Club Fear creator. But sensing an opportunity, the Club Fear team pitched a move to its current location, acquiring a deal to nab a high profile location while utilizing a footprint that matched the original garage (thank you, tract housing!). It’s got a darker vibe than Shiver, but it’s not overly intense either. Consider Club Fear suitable for early teens and up!

 Club Fear’s facade sure is photogenic, and the rising moon in the background doesn’t hurt either!

Club Fear’s facade sure is photogenic, and the rising moon in the background doesn’t hurt either!

Club Fear is located at 23501 Clearidge Dr, Santa Clarita, CA 91354, and is open tonight from 7-10pm. It is part of a series of great home haunts in the Santa Clarita area that includes Shiver Haunt, Coffinwood Cemetery, and Pumkin Jack’s Haunted House (and also Beware the Dark Realm, though this last one won’t be open tonight). There are great scares to be had, and Club Fear will fill your nightmares with them!

Architect. Photographer. Disney nerd. Haunt enthusiast. Travel bugged. Concert fiend. Asian.