Hysterium (2022 Review)
Updated: Oct 28, 2022
Hysterium 4410 Arden Dr. Fort Wayne, IN 46804 http://www.hysterium.com
Date of Visit: 10/8/22 Reviewer: Lindsay
The lunar cycle is notorious for its impact on the world, especially in regards to humanity. Whether it's transforming people into half-animal monsters or driving them to madness, everyone expects things to get a little wild when the moon is out. With the Hunter's Moon on the rise, it was kind of appropriate I chose that specific weekend to travel north in my state and visit a couple of haunts - one of them known for housing its share of mental patients. But where exactly do the crazies come out for the full moon?
They're all bouncing off the walls at Hysterium, an asylum-themed haunted attraction in Fort Wayne, Indiana.
If you're a new patient checking in to Hysterium for the night, you've got a couple of options when it comes to admission: you can either purchase a timed ticket online, or grab one first come, first served at the door. (Tip: you'll save a few bucks if you buy online - $17 versus $22.) Having a time slot helps, but if there's a big crowd waiting when you arrive, you can upgrade to Fast Pass access for an additional $20. As for where you can park, I couldn't quite tell if the haunt had any spots available on site, but you'll find plenty of free space on nearby streets and local business lots.
Upon purchasing my Fast Pass admission, I was handed a yellow wristband and a blinking red light. I didn't get a whole lot of time to take in my surroundings before a skull-faced slider collected the light and gestured for me to follow, but I did like what I saw of the atmosphere outside. They had two impressive skeletal creatures guarding the gate - perfect photo opportunity! Gargoyles also watch over the property as sliders, and a few escaped crazies, roam about and entertain the line. Joining up with five other guests at the door, our group didn't have to wait long before a wide-eyed, disheveled nurse poked their head out and waved us all in.
We were ordered to have a seat in the dingy, cluttered mess that was the hospital's waiting room. I would have liked to get a closer look at our surroundings, except that my attention was immediately caught- or rather, demanded- by a... receptionist? Another nurse? I'm not quite sure who this lovely lady was, but she was very much convinced I was with the CIA, and began interrogating me for information - while brandishing some painful-looking implement in her hands. I chose to play along and made it clear I'd never talk. (Feeding her delusions probably wasn't the best idea, but I rarely miss an opportunity to "poke the bear" when I'm at a haunt... trust me, it gets me in trouble all the time.) After realizing she'd get no answers from me- or anyone else in the group- we were finally dismissed, and sent into a dubious-looking elevator for our descent into this frightful funny farm.
Hysterium follows its asylum theme for a good while, but as it goes with most haunted attractions, you will quickly discover that there's more to this facility than the staff are letting on! An intense ride on the "Hellevator" kicks off your stay in this hospital of horrors before dumping you off into its murky, green sewer. (Wait... how'd we end up down there? And where'd the giant mushrooms come from?!) A labyrinth of creepy hallways followed, awash in red light, their walls lined with doors to patient rooms. Venturing outside briefly took us through an outdoor theater, where a handful of patients who'd obviously seen better days were seated and watching a movie. They were guarded by a doctor in a lab coat, who got a little snarly when a couple of group members refused to have a seat and watch, too. "I make the rules and you follow them!" The rooms only got crazier from there - we found ourselves in a clown ward at one point, which was painted up in bright colors and had some great props and special effects. We also had to navigate a disorienting white maze with pulsing strobes, where a cleverly disguised actor stalked and scared us throughout. One of my favorite parts involved a tunnel of foam that completely absorbed my group, freaking them out and leaving all of us soaked - not the best thing for a chilly night, but I loved it! I've seen plenty of suds used at haunts, but this place went hog wild with 'em.
Quite a few doctors, orderlies, and lunatics populate this facility, and it won't be long into your tour before the inmates are running the asylum! I got a good laugh out of our interrogator in the first room, a very witty and energetic actor. Then there was the creepy, demented Dr. Heigel, expertly slinking around the elevator and using the flickering lights to his advantage to scare us right and left! The two residents of the clown ward, Chuckles and Twinkles, were a lot of fun to "clown around" with. Numerous other patients stalked and popped out at us as we explored the asylum, trying to get help with finding their rooms or speaking nonsense. One guy, holed up in a containment room, seemed convinced the facility was working on some kind of virus or hiding another nasty secret, and was in a hurry to shoo us out.
I do want to offer a special shout out to one actor in particular, a young man with a sliced face who was carrying a severed limb. He was working a room, or rooms, with multiple doors and kept encouraging us to follow him. "Go this way! This way! We need to go this way!" ... except every time we followed his directions, we just ended up going in circles. It was some of the best misdirection I'd ever seen in a haunt - our group was split up a couple of times, then it was just me and him for a while, and he finally enlisted my help with getting the others through the correct door (because, as you might imagine, nobody trusted him anymore). An older man in our group turned to his wife and grumbled, "This sh*t. This is what I was telling you about." Apparently it was not his first rodeo with this patient and he wasn't so amused. I, on the other hand, found the whole thing hilarious. He worked that room brilliantly!
Although they didn't make it easy, all of us did manage to escape from the asylum, leaving us free to enjoy everything else the haunt offered. There was a trailer selling drinks and snacks, and you can grab a t-shirt or a bumper sticker if you stop by the ticket booth on your way out. My slider "friend" from earlier caught up with me outside for a little more interaction; I would've loved to stay and hang out a bit longer, but I had another stop that night and it was 30 minutes away.
If I had to sum up Hysterium using one word, it would be: insanity. And I loved it. This isn't a haunted house that seeks to terrify its customers; rather, it looks for ways to mess with them... constantly. I'm known for having a penchant for intensity when it comes to haunts, but I can also appreciate those that entertain and make me laugh as much as I scream, and this one nailed it. Should you find yourself stricken with a little full moon madness yourself- or any madness at all- you'll find the cure at Hysterium. Head on up to Fort Wayne and check them out.
ENVIRONMENT: 8/10 - Mostly follows the asylum theme - with a few surprises! They had some really fun and disorienting rooms (see notes above).
ACTING: 8/10 - Very strong, interactive cast. Minimal dead space in the house, we never had to wait long before encountering an actor.
SCARE FACTOR: 7/10 - Not the scariest haunt I've been through, but definitely entertaining. I laughed as much as I shrieked!
OVERALL: 8/10 - Hysterium was a blast! I'm really glad I got an opportunity to see their show.