Updated: Feb 15
Americanhorrorplex 2012 Northwestern Pkwy Louisville, KY 40203 http://www.americanhorrorplex.com
Date of Visit: 10/15/21 (review visit - most photos from opening night on 9/17) Reviewer: Lindsay
Standing in the little museum that serves as a memorial to the old Bracken-Hart Institute, I'm really trying to pay attention to what the Russian nurse is telling me. But it's hard - there's just so many interesting things to look at! Cabinets surround us on either side, their shelves lined with artifacts salvaged from the fire that supposedly gutted this hospital. Black and white photographs. Surgery tools. A nurse's uniform, and lots of other curiosities. There's a pause in the nurse's speech, but when I turn to give my attention back to her, the lights start flickering... violently. Glancing around the room with apprehension, I swear I can hear unearthly voices.
Almost as quickly as it happened, the lights return to normal, and the strange noises cease. When I look at the nurse again, I'm startled to notice she has a gun at the ready.
Both of us are silent for a moment. Then she murmurs, "Their spirits know you've arrived."
Now celebrating their third season, the American Horrorplex is one of Louisville's newer haunted houses, risen from the ashes of the former 7th Street Haunt in 2019. In addition to a brand new name and location, the haunt also opened with a fresh storyline centered around the fictional Bracken-Hart Institute (also known as the Bracken-Hart Home For the Criminally Insane). Doctors Hans Rudi Bracken and Lena Hart were tasked with a project to develop super soldiers for the US government to use in future wars.
Through implanting parasitic creatures known as "flesh lumpkins", they successfully imbued human hosts with increased physical strength, but the host's connection with the parasite would inevitably make them unstable and difficult to control. The downfall of the project came when some experiments escaped, bringing the facility to the attention of local law enforcement. However, when police came to investigate, they found little more than a burned out shell of the former hospital... and no living trace of the doctors or any of their patients. The property is still being treated as an active crime scene, as rumor has it that the doctors may have moved their operations underground. In the meantime, a museum has been set up to memorialize their work and offer tours of the facility - but it's made very clear that anyone wishing to partake does so at their own risk.
If you're interested in touring the Bracken-Hart Institute, a general admission pass starts at $25. Several VIP options are also available depending on how much of a hurry you're in, and how much you'd like to do while you're there. (For example, they have a VIP pass that also includes a 5-minute escape room!) Parking is free and attendants will guide you to a spot, but their lot is very small and fills up quickly. Should that be the case when you arrive, there is plenty of street parking around the haunt.
The Horrorplex has made many changes for the 2021 season, and that becomes apparent as soon as you step through the gate. Their queue has been upgraded to immediately introduce visitors to the Bracken-Hart story via recorded announcements playing over the speakers, projected videos, and interactive displays, with panels you can lift up to reveal the Institute's secrets (much like you'd find in a real museum). Some of the hospital's patients occasionally wander out and mingle among guests - you might meet some interesting characters in line! (I wasn't terribly amused by the one who kept trying to introduce me to his little friend. "Little friend" being the creepy ventriloquist dummy he was carrying around, and by "introduce", I mean sneaking him in my face at every available opportunity.)
Following an awesome opening scene that both sets up and pulls guests deeper into the story, and a chance to look over some recovered artifacts from the remains of the Institute, groups will begin their tour on the grounds of the facility. The Horrorplex is as weird and whimsical as it is scary, and that's something else you'll notice quickly, too (check out the dragon they've got guarding the property!). A nurse and her playful patient are there to greet you at the door, and usher you onto an elevator. As one might expect, that elevator ride doesn't quite go as planned, and unceremoniously drops you right into Dr. Hart's laboratory... where you'll soon discover that this place isn't nearly as "abandoned" as once thought!
With a few odd (but fun) deviations, American Horrorplex sticks to the story it has created, taking groups on a full journey through the Bracken-Hart Institute. Room after room of test tube experiments, caged monstrosities (including a rabid animatronic chimp), a grotesque kitchen, padded cells, and more madness awaits you. The set work in each room is amazing and heavy with detail, like the charts, x-rays, and medical equipment strewn about the opening laboratory, the glowing buttons on the consoles outside of experiment viewing rooms, and the varying degrees of grime, rust, and gore applied throughout. That this haunt is also interactive- requiring guests to press buttons or pull levers in order to get through certain scenes- only makes the environment even more believable.
The doctors acquired many of the hosts for their experiments by snatching mentally ill victims off the streets. Unfortunately- despite their best efforts- the inmates very much run the asylum here, and a frenzied cast of crazies runs wild through the entire hospital. Some wear little more than hospital gowns and face masks, while others are muzzled or have deformities - and of course, a lot of them are infested with those nasty flesh lumpkins! Horrorplex's cast runs like a well oiled machine, adept at finding unexpected spots to scare from, and teaming up to either attack together or grab rebound scares (if you flee from one person, there's a decent chance you'll end up with someone else coming at you!). Although the patients and experiments running around are the main threat in the Institute, watch out for the staff who work there as well - many of them also seem to be under the influence of the parasites, and they are not to be trusted. One nurse tricked me into subjecting a patient to some "shock therapy", except that he survived, and you can imagine how happy he was that I tried to fry him... he came at me with such rage in the next room that I nearly wound up on the floor!
While they totally brought the scares on my visit, I can't leave out the fact that their actors are as funny and interactive as they are terrifying. A menacing doctor in a room full of operating tables directed my attention to a lengthy lumpkin that looked like an alien worm, sticking out from between a male cadaver's legs. "This is Steve - nice and hard!" And I couldn't help but laugh at the patient who kept screaming that he needed to feed his "babies"... "babies" being the big, gross parasite(s) hanging off of his belly. Upon spotting me, he called out that they'd just "love to have some Bacon!" (Hey, haunt actors? Having a last name like that doesn't mean I'm food.)
Upon completing your tour, you exit into the haunt's gift shop, where you can purchase souvenir photos, Horrorplex merch, and assorted Halloween items. (Seriously, take a look around - there's a lot of neat stuff for sale!) Still up for more fun? Venture outside and you'll find a trailer offering escape rooms for a small upcharge. On select nights, they also have carnival games, a "Bug Bus" with live insects on a real school bus, and- my favorite- a petting zoo hosted by Butterfly Valley Rescue, where you can hang out with friendly animals for just $5. On opening night, I probably spent 40+ minutes just chilling with the goats and talking with the couple who operate the rescue.
The American Horrorplex is one of Louisville's most unique haunted houses, with a completely original story that offers a breath of fresh air in the local scene. I have a blast every year that I go, and I can't recommend it enough for any haunt fan who's looking to experience a show that's unlike any other out there. Come on down and pay the good doctors a visit - just make sure you aren't bringing a flesh lumpkin home with you!
ENVIRONMENT: 10/10 - This haunt tells a story and not only introduces their customers to it from the start, but involves them in it too. Rooms have excellent detail and scenery. Additional activities are available for a small upcharge, allowing visitors to spend a good chunk of their night here.
ACTING: 8/10 - Talented actors that are as entertaining as they are scary! Would have liked to see a few more on my visit, but I understand the haunt had some absenteeism the night I came to review.
SCARE FACTOR: 8/10 - Cast works well together to deliver frights, and often from places you wouldn't expect them to appear.
OVERALL: 9/10 - The American Horrorplex has ranked high on my list every season they've been open, and 2021 provided yet another strong showing for them. Well done!