Various studies throughout the modern day have come to the conclusion that some fears we have as a species may be linked to our DNA, after generations of prehistoric evolution found it important to instill certain knowledge points in our very fabric. A common fear that is suspected to be one of these evolved traits is that of the darkness. A modern look at why may be exampled perfectly by reflecting on reported lion attacks through a study published on PLOS ONE, which indicates the attacks made by the predators are 60 percent more common at night.
The likelihood of our ancestors having cause for anxiety tied to darkness is likely for good reason, due to the known list of predators at the time. This evolutionary-formed fear is exactly the factor Terror in the Trees founder Steve Johnson likes to tap into when he sends people through the mouth of his infamous monster tree gate and into the dark wooded area where he has props and actors waiting through a half-mile-long trail that will continue our evolutionary tradition of shaping our DNA to fear the things that go bump in the night.
The regionally well-known haunt began its mission in 2011 with a quarter of a mile trail. Over time, they’ve doubled the length of the trail and have added plenty of new props, mechanical features, and scenes for actors to utilize.
Johnson said the key to a good haunt is a big budget and a lot of time.
Johnson’s efforts certainly check the box on time, seeing as he is running maintenance on the space the second they close and periodically throughout the year.
While Johnson has 50 crew members, a lot of anything he earns goes back into the haunt to guarantee a better event each year, whether that is supporting crew or investing in the haunt directly.
One of Terror in the Trees’ most notable features is the monster gate made of trees they removed when clearing paths for the haunt. The gate is a massive, spiky thing with red eyes and green ominous lighting everywhere else. The effect makes guests feel as though they are about to be swallowed by the forest.
“It has lasted longer than I thought it would. I have it in my vision to revamp it next season, but we really like it, because it symbolizes Terror in the Trees,” Johnson said. “It looks like the angry trees are going to swallow you alive, which they pretty much do.”
Johnson said that the actors are divided around 50/50 on established and known scary favorites and originals.
“A lot of haunts don’t want to do the known characters. In the beginning I didn’t either, but, here is the thing, people go to haunts and they expect it and we try to make as many people happy as possible. Everybody wants to see Freddy or Michael. This year, we went one step further and purchased mannequin figures of a lot of the classics for the entry for photos, because people want photos with their favorites.”
While the trees are a focus of their haunt, Johnson also invests in technology and animatronics to create the spookiest time possible.
Terror in the Trees is at 444 Jacobs Cemetery Rd, Lucasville, Ohio, 45648
The remaining open nights include October 15,21,22,28, and 29. Gates open at 8 p.m. and ticket sales end at 11:30 p.m.
Reach Joseph Pratt at (740) 353-3101, by email at [email protected], © 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved