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My Experience as a Haunted House Scare Actor

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

As a longtime lover of both Halloween and having money, my senior year of high school consisted of me trying to find a fun job to do for the duration of Spooky Season. I looked into Spirit Halloween as a classic spooky job, but eventually I came across an advertisement for casting at a haunted house. Naturally, I immediately contacted the email listed in the advertisement, and was given two dates at which they would be hosting auditions at the Haunted House.

How do you prepare for a haunted house audition? As someone with limited haunted house acting experience, I decided to watch a couple of scary movies and google “haunted house actor preparation.” Between “Friday the 13th” and “Lights Out,” I read up on advice for people auditioning for haunted houses. I didn’t think a lot of this advice was particularly helpful, but it did give me an idea of what to expect. 

The email inviting me to the audition said to “dress in costume if you want,” so on a crisp autumn day in September 2020, I drove out to the middle of nowhere while dressed like Wonder Woman. With my tote bag in one hand and water bottle in another, I walked into a dirt parking lot with a bunch of other people in front of The Frightmare Compound, which wasn’t quite as scary in the light. Here, we met with Josh and Troy, who run the Frightmare Compound, and they proceeded to give us a tour of the haunted house. I quickly made friends with one of the other people there, and we talked about how nervous we were for our auditions and also how we were the only two who came in costume. 

After the tour, we walked back to the front, where we would wait to be called downstairs for our audition. I anxiously waited for my name to be called, and when it finally was, I descended into the creepy underground portion of the house, surrounded by metal chains and old farming tools. Classic haunted house decor. 

Once I was into the basement, they let me know that I could remove my mask (COVID) and perform my audition piece while they filmed it. I was allowed to use any of the props laid out by the wall. Previously, they’d mentioned that they were looking for a variety of different scares for the house, including but not limited to: jump scares, creepy scares, silent scares, and unsettling scares. I hadn’t quite figured out what I was going to do, so I figured I would wing it. Picking up an old rusty metal pipe, I settled for a creepy stare accompanied by unsettling laughter that ended with me screaming and lifting the pipe as though I was going to whack someone. I then simply lowered the pipe and they stopped the video. After a quick thank you and the shaking of hands, I headed home. 

A couple days later I heard back that I had gotten the job and to attend orientation. I was super excited, and at orientation we went over the basics and got to pick our costumes. I wound up as a scarecrow and got to work the farm section of the house. We would be using eye black as our makeup, as most of us had full face masks on, which covered the masks we wore over our mouths for COVID. I would be working essentially every day all throughout October, doing 3 hour nights on weeknights and 5 hours on Fridays and Saturdays, not including  the 30 minutes it took to get dressed and put on our makeup. 

An average night would consist of getting dressed, heading to my designated spot behind a fence in the farm section, and popping up whenever a group would walk through. I experimented with standing still and being creepy, pretending to be a prop and moving when they got close, or just popping up as they went around the corner. Popping up got the most screams, so I opted for that. As a group would come by, I would pop up, scare them as they went into the metal silo, then run around the outside of the silo to meet them. It became a very efficient system once I got into the rhythm of it. 

After I had gotten used to my position, I started putting in earbuds under my mask so that I could listen to podcasts while I was scaring people. The constant noise of people screaming and the chainsaw in the section next to me became repetitive and annoying, so the podcasts really helped. Additionally, our bosses would come through the house about halfway through the night with candy for all of the actors. 

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/ Unsplash

The only downsides of the job were when it got a little cold (I was in an outdoor portion) and when drunk idiots would come through the house and heckle us. Luckily, I had plenty of room under my giant pair of bloodstained overalls to layer coats, and my bosses were pretty good about kicking out anyone who was getting too rowdy. Overall, it was a really great, spooky experience, and I will cherish the compliments I received on my “creepy eyes” for years to come. 

Jess Alschuler

CU Boulder '25

Jess is a junior at CU Boulder pursuing an Aerospace Engineering degree with a minor in atmospheric and oceanic sciences. As a writer for the CU Her Campus chapter, she enjoys writing about the local music scene, television and entertainment, and the outdoors. In the future, she hopes to start a career as an Aerospace Engineer working with NOAA on remote sensing. She enjoys running, hiking, reading, and mountaineering in her free time.