Step into a physical manifestation of the twisted worlds created by acclaimed horror manga artist Junji Ito.
By CHIN JIAN WEI
If you’re a reader of Japanese manga, chances are you’ve seen some of Junji Ito’s gorgeously stomach-churning horror visuals before. The man is a master of body horror, his work often depicts characters horribly twisted into unnatural shapes, infected with horrifying parasites, or with impossibly distorted expressions on their faces. His talents as a storyteller tie all of this together, often presenting darkly surreal stories, such as giant floating balloons uncannily shaped like human heads who seek out their human counterparts to kill them, or a child who finds herself mysteriously turning into a doll over time, her skin hardening and cracking like porcelain. A particular favourite of this writer is The Enigma of Amigara Fault, wherein a group of people are mysteriously drawn to holes in the rock wall of the titular fault. Each claustrophobic hole is shaped exactly like the silhouette of specific people, and the compulsion to enter the hole shaped like them grows ever stronger for our characters…
With all that, the expectations for Junji Ito Horror House were high. Located in Lalaport BBCC, this is a one-of-a-kind haunted house experience recreating the environments seen in Ito’s manga and its anime adaptation. You’ll enter in groups of four, holding a piece of rope to stay together as you go through the halls. In addition to the sets, actors lurk around the props, jumping out to scare visitors. Don’t worry, there’s no physical contact involved. There are two halls, for which you can opt to purchase tickets for both or just one. Each hall is distinct, with its own sets and props recreating different stories from Ito’s worlds. In addition, there’s an exhibition area where you’ll find more props, as well as Ito’s sketches and lush artwork framed on the walls. This is the only section where visitors are allowed to take pictures.
So what’s the verdict on the Horror House? The sets and props are extremely well made, accurately capturing the atmosphere of creeping terror in Ito’s stories. With the excellent mood lighting throwing much into shadow, it really allows the props to be properly creepy. Some highlights include a pair of legs stuck in a bathroom shower drain, a severed head suspended by intricate knots of its own long hair, and a creepy recreation of a Japanese neighbourhood at night.
However, in this writer’s opinion, the experience overall would be stronger if they relied less on the scares provided by the actors. Due to the sense of urgency and near-constant jump scares from the actors, it leaves one with little time to slow down and appreciate the beautiful sets. Despite this point of criticism, the overall experience was very memorable, and worth the price of entry if you’re an Ito or horror fan, or just looking to get into the Halloween mood. The exhibition area is also a nice showcase of Ito’s skill at creating art both beautiful and horrifying.
For more information and to buy your tickets, head on over to the website! The Horror House is open until 30 November 2023.