Dr Frights Review –  A terrifying return for Earls Barton horror maze as the show still impresses on its 13th anniversary

A terrifying trip down Route 666 is all you need to get in the Halloween spirit
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Halloween is celebrated by folks around the world in plenty of different ways.

For some it’s an opportunity to snuggle up on the sofa for an annual re-watch of the cheesy, but lovable Scream films, and for others, it’s another chance to be scared out of their skin by clowns, zombies and hillbilly madmen trying everything in their power to make you cry.

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I fall in the former camp, so the proposition of Dr Frights’ Halloween Nights, a collection of Halloween mazes at White’s Nurseries in Earls Barton that are designed to do just that, isn’t something that should appeal to me.

The new 'Route 666' maze has seven distinct zones for attendees to endureThe new 'Route 666' maze has seven distinct zones for attendees to endure
The new 'Route 666' maze has seven distinct zones for attendees to endure

However, the constantly impressive set design and talented actors that make up each Dr Frights event keeps me coming back.

Unlike last year’s ‘Horrorworld’ attraction where the mazes were scattered around a central hub that included a bar and merch stand, the ‘Route 666’ journey is far more linear, with each zone merging into one another making the affair one, long, continuous event.

The previous format allowed people to take the mazes at their own pace, and meant Dr Frights was a viable place to spend an entire evening.

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The change does well to keep the tension high, and can help to forge fleeting bonds with the people around you also enduring the nightmare, but in doing so it means the experience must be had in one fell swoop.

Abandon hope (and respect the rules) all ye who enterAbandon hope (and respect the rules) all ye who enter
Abandon hope (and respect the rules) all ye who enter

The bar that rests at the end of the gauntlet is a welcome sight, and a worthwhile reward.

In truth, Dr Fright’s popularity can come back to haunt it as wait times before the show, and in the intermission zone halfway through, can be a little long. Thankfully, there is a fast track option for those looking for a more seamless experience.

It’s within the individual zones where this year’s Dr Frights shines brightest. Seven segments of gory glee await all those who dare enter, from a zombie-infested World War One bunker to the country bumpkin grindhouse portion, where the unmistakable smell of petrol lingers in the air before the unsettling sound of a chainsaw rings in the ears of attendees.

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The highlights are part two and part five of the gauntlet, ‘Downtown Hell-A’ and the ‘Devilsgate Cinema’.

The former’s visuals are awe-inspiring, with chain link fences, Californian signage, and eager volunteers donning costumes inspired by 2013 horror flick The Purge.

The cinema segment cleverly weaves together the classic slasher and spooky films, with each turn of a corner taking people anywhere from Michael Myers’ domain to Bates’ Motel. The beginning of Devilsgate Cinema is the smartest, most eerie moment of the whole show, and is as impressive as it is scary.

Though the experience is deliberately unnerving, ‘Route 666’s road is paved with good intentions, with actors doing well to stay immersive, but are also respectful of people’s space.

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13 iterations of Dr Frights doesn’t make it any less frightening, it rather serves to refine a formula that has consistently sent chills up the spines of Northamptonshire locals for all those years.

I was utterly terrified, I desperately wanted it to be over, and I can’t wait for next year.

Tickets can be booked here.

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