“What is a launch event?” I asked myself after readily signing up to review one. I knew many important things are launched: political campaigns, rockets, Beyoncé fragrances; but I didn’t quite know what to expect as I made my way to BrewCo North Street (NewCo for the kids) yesterday evening. One thing can be said for certain: I had high hopes for the launch, as last year I was a victim of the Union’s Halloween event and felt eager to see how House of Horror would compare.
The event took place on Thursday night; so even though Wednesday night’s shenanigans left me slightly worse for wear, it was easy to stop thinking about them once I entered the venue. The main room was decked out in Halloween decorations, which also extended throughout the other rooms. They did not feel too kitsch or overdone (let’s be honest, it is a fine line to toe when holiday ornaments are involved) and did not feel too “in your face”. They created a good atmosphere to hint at the event to come, and did not cause the same pain I felt upon walking into Tesco on 1 October and seeing aggressive displays of Halloween and pumpkin-flavoured everything everywhere.
The event hosts were also dressed up for the occasion in all-black costumes and red face paint, which I thought to be a fun way of distinguishing themselves from the other party-goers and make the event a more immersive experience. House of Horror aimed to create a place in which “everyone feels welcome to show up, dress up and be whoever they want for a night” (according to Isabela Campos de Almeida, co-director). Throughout the rooms, scenes from Disney’s Snow White played on silent loop, a nod to this year’s creative concept: “Kingdom Grimm”. Sofia Puurunen, co-director of the event, hopes that “the theme this year gives our guests the horror they expect from Halloween, without compromising the whimsical spirit which has been a part of the House of Horror in the past.”
Chocolates and sweets were also strewn about, and if there is one criticism I could give, it would be to have organised a better/clearer way of disposing wrappers as there were a lot of these left lying around the tables in one of the rooms. To the committee’s credit, recycling must not have been on top of any of the guest’s priority list, as everyone seemed too busy enjoying the atmosphere, the drinks and the company.
Even though the venue itself was not very big, House of Horror managed to create a space for everyone: there was a more lounge-y, sit-talk-and-drink area and a separate room with a DJ for anyone more inclined towards having a good boogie. The music itself was good for dancing and not obnoxiously loud or invasive, meaning I managed to talk to people and hear myself think amidst the commotion. I personally would have wanted to hear some slightly spookier tunes as I feel it would have created a more authentic Halloween atmosphere.
Overall, I thought the launch was a relaxed and fun way of getting people excited for the main event and for it to be a great way to raise money for a good cause. This year, House of Horror has partnered up with Impact Arts to raise money to help communities around the UK “transform their lives through creativity and the arts” (https://www.impactarts.co.uk).
Coming from a country that does not generally celebrate Halloween, I always find myself being slightly sceptical when I see that familiar shade of orange too early into October. However, House of Horror made me feeling excited for the main event (happening the night of 31 October at the Kinkell Byre) and I find this to be no mean feat. Now all that is left to do is for me to buy my ticket and spend way too much money on my Halloween costume.