images © Stourbridge Scare Maze, Kyle Pedley
As is perhaps evinced in its no-frills name, Stourbridge Scare Maze doesn’t get itself too hung up on having a singular, uniting theme. In larger scare parks, such as Burton-upon-Trent’s Screamfest, or Leicester’s Xtreme Scream Park, where there are multiple different mazes to experience, giving each their own distinct theme and flavour of fear becomes a must.
As one of a growing number of standalone scare attractions popping up as the industry continues its boon, though, Stourbridge forgoes this, instead offering up something of a ‘greatest hits’ offering – presenting a sizeable, 15-20 minute walkthrough that winds its way through various different environs and themes.
They’re mostly familiar and broad horror strokes – from a hillbilly shanty town to a malfunctioning asylum ward, and even a Satanic chapel adorned with more ‘666’s than you’d know what to do with. Dimly-lit industrial walkways littered with nests of piping and cables give off strong Ridley Scott vibes, whilst monitors displaying CCTV footage of disturbed inmates offer an early moment to pause and dread over what may lie ahead.
“Dimly-lit industrial walkways littered with nests of piping and cables give off strong Ridley Scott vibes, whilst monitors displaying CCTV footage of disturbed inmates offer an early moment to pause and dread over what may lie ahead.”
For the most part, Stourbridge is impressively transportive and immersive. In truth, more so than anticipated. Yes, there are a handful of places where the production value can’t quite keep up with some of the more established contemporaries, with its relative newness felt in places such as the wooden builds of the early hillbilly locale, but on the whole the environmental storytelling, audio and visual design is comfortably of a standard that could be easily slotted into one of the industry heavy hitters.
Where it really impresses, though, is in the energy and vehemence of its scare actors. After recently reviewing some of its heftier competitors, and being slightly underwhelmed by the casts’ engagement, Stourbridge’s blood-soaked assembly of lunatics, demons, cultists and piggy butchers were excellent across-the-board. Whilst we shan’t spoil the experience by going into specifics, some real highlights were sections where the flow of travel became temporarily suspended by an actor or two really taking the time to showcase and make the most of their character, tormenting unsuspecting visitors in the process.
“Where it really impresses, is in the energy and vehemence of its scare actors.”
The denizens of Stourbridge Scare Maze will – with very little hesitation – grab you, block your path, scream profanities, and time their jump scares with disarming efficiency. And whilst some of the nasties can be fairly generic fare, some of the masks, costumes and characters are genuinely impressive. That visitors are guided up and down staircases, through a variety of different ‘zones’ and themes, and at times even having to crawl on all fours to make their way through, only keeps the fear of not knowing what may be around any given corner – or, indeed, what it may do to you – all the more gnawing and constant.
At £16.50 per head for 2022’s offering, visitors will have to factor in the fact that they are only getting a single maze for this price, whereas parks such as Burton or Leicester offering up to six for roughly double that cost. Stourbridge is, however, a great time – long enough to feel satisfying and worth the admission (and, as a single maze, longer than the vast majority of individual mazes at other parks), and genuinely varied and intense enough to stand on its own as an easy recommendation for scare seekers, particularly as a relative newcomer to the field.
In fact, having attended and reviewed a host of scare attractions both this year and before, between its excellent, engaged cast of scare actors and multi-levelled playground of varied, freakish delights, Stourbridge Scare Maze has proven itself one of the most pleasant (unpleasant?) surprises, and consistently intense scare experiences, of this Halloween year.
An impressively diverse – and surprisingly intense – outing, ‘Stourbridge’ proves itself a scream; and a relatively new scare attraction well worth checking out.