The screams are real at the 13th Floor Haunted House in Northland.
Maybe it’s because of the dim corridors cloaked in fog.
Or the disorienting strobe lights, lurid 3D mazes and creepy music.
Or the macabre ghouls perhaps lurking around that next corner.
Or because people just are excited to be frightened with Halloween on the horizon.
“I’m a big fan of getting scared, and this seemed like a good way to do it,” said 19-year-old Rand Barton, one of a trio of Ohio Wesleyan University sophomores who drove down from the school’s campus in Delaware on Sept. 20 to get his shriek on.
Many more will do the same over the next few weeks now that haunted houses are reopening for the scare season.
The 13th Floor Haunted House at 2605 Northland Plaza Drive in Columbus pulls out all the stops to get customers to scream their way through 16,000 square feet of terrifying themes, petrifying props and enthusiastic actors who take every opportunity to ratchet up the fear factor, said Ashley Shilling, general manager of the facility.
“We have some gore, but it’s mostly in areas that that are appropriate, like a butcher shop,” she said.
Costumes, makeup, strobe lights, eerie sounds and a fog machine add to the spooky atmosphere during the 25-minute tour, she said.
“The lighting is very specific to each scene to highlight what’s happening in that scene,” she said.
Brian Buckley, makeup manager for the location, said it’s his job to create the right balance for the 50 actors who will play ghoulish roles and change costumes throughout the night.
“You can really do both scary and realistic at the same time – and do it quickly,” Buckley said.
The experience isn’t recommended for children 12 and younger. Also, pregnant women and those with heart conditions, seizure disorders and other medical conditions are cautioned about attending.
The clowns, zombies, creepy-crawlies and post-apocalyptic mayhem simply is too much for some, Shilling said. For others, it’s a fun, exciting stroll in the park.
“It depends on your ability to handle scary things,” she said. “I have 13-year-olds who make it the whole way and don’t have a problem. And I have 40-year-old big, burly guys who can’t make it through.”
People of all ages, including couples and families, were braving the 13th Floor on Sept. 20.
“It was really well done,” Barton said.
He and his Ohio Wesleyan classmates, Miah Katalenas and Destiny Bartoe, both 19, were a well-balanced party, with Bartoe fearlessly leading the way for her companions.
“I just wanted to do something fun,” Bartoe said of their Friday night foray.
“I was shaking,” Katalenas said after it was over.
She had gripped Barton’s hand for much of their adventure.
“She almost broke my fingers,” Barton joked.
The haunted house is open specific days through Nov. 9. Base ticket prices are $19.99 to $29.99, depending on the date; upgraded packages for “fast pass” and “skip the line” are available. For more information, go to 13thfloorcolumbus.com.