Creep LA: Awake is a surreal immersive theatrical experience

Creep LA: Awake

It’s a Thursday evening, and I’m here standing in the middle of ROW DTLA. It’s the home of Smorgasburg, one of the biggest outdoor food markets in the nation filled with vendors of all types. However, tonight isn’t a night for food. It’s a night to be transported into a different world filled with dreams and nightmares. There are signs pointing to where we had to go, and we figured where we had to wait as people were gathering. Just Fix It Productions has always been changing the formula when it comes to Creep LA, the yearly horror immersive theatrical experience, and this year is no different. This is a very large group of around 30 for our Creep LA: Awake time slot, and I was afraid that it might get a bit crowded. In the previous years, a participant would experience a show with a small group. In Creep LA’s The Willows, you waited for a ride with a small group in a neighborhood and were transported with blindfolds on.

For the beginning of Creep LA: Awake, we had to pair up with our partner and stand in two lines as we face each other. Our instructions are to remain silent while walking towards the end of a building. It feels like boot camp, with onlookers wondering why our group was silent and walking in two straight lines. There was a creepy and mysterious figure standing ahead of us. My friend’s line was the first to go in, leaving me in line with complete strangers. (This is definitely making me somewhat nervous.) Our line proceeded to move, and we were directed to go inside an elevator. As we reached our floor, masked figures came to grab us one by one. Scala & Kolacny Brothers’ eerie cover of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” is heard in the background. My masked guide directs me to lie down on a nearby bed next to another participant. She whispers in my ears, telling me to breathe deeply and close my eyes. My ears melted to the sound of her voice, one that reminds me of an ASMR YouTube video.

Upon opening my eyes, a masked man appears in front of me, staring directly at me. He then walks to his bed, takes off his mask and sleeps. A woman from behind whispers to me again, telling me to rest on my elbows so that I can get a better view of the room I’m in. Now I can see the other participants all around me, lying on beds and sitting on their elbows as we looked towards the center of the room. We see three of the unmasked figures, and they wake up, spouting what sounds like nonsense. These tortured souls, never truly knowing if they’re awake or sleeping, are then discussing a traumatic memory, and the guests are looking confused as to what’s happening.

One of the young women comes towards me and tells me to follow her. She repeats this to the others near me, and we formed a small group of 7 and traverse into her world. It’s quiet as we walk away from the center of the room. There’s a tunnel, and we have to crawl inside to reach a hidden room. It’s a room with walls of cardboard boxes. However, we aren’t the only ones inside. Our guide is confronted by her creepy admirer, who’s sporting a big forceful grin.

As our group finishes one section of the story, we are greeted by a new host who shines a light to a bright red door. We walk through the door and see a bedroom with a nightstand and lamp. This is an interesting sequence since it turns out this isn’t the right room, and we have to head to the next room through another red door. The jokes on us since it’s the same room as before. We walk through another red door, only to experience the same room over and over again. If you have played the Silent Hill PT demo on the PlayStation 4, you’ll have an idea. Once we reach the end, we had to hide behind a curtain to conceal ourselves from a dark creature with long fingers. The lighting and the curtain help with the freaky vibe as we witness our host being taken away.

Just Fix It Productions has done a stellar job of directing and shuffling all the guests around in the immersive show. It could easily be chaotic when moving around 30 guests, but the actors did their part and moved the guests from one scene to another for a very smooth experience. As a participant, I feel many of the actors are giving me something to do, whether it’s being carried away, joining another actor as we are running in the dark, or feeling uneasiness throughout as we become part of the show. There is one actor that stood out, and that’s a woman who is super excited that she hasn’t slept in days. I really felt her pain as she tries to put on a smile while hiding her discomfort.

There was a moment where I was trying to get into the story, but I was distracted by someone in the group who insists on trying to be funny, thus ruining the immersion. It’s not Creep LA’s fault since they do mention that participants shouldn’t be talking during the show. Not only that, but she was noisy throughout due to her high heels clacking against the ground and her attempt at unwrapping a candy wrapper slowly during a quiet setting. Hopefully, others who experience Creep LA: Awake won’t have to deal with this.

Some of Creep LA: Awake’s production values leave a lot to be desired, especially the cardboard box rooms. I still feel like I was inside an empty and dark floor of a building in ROW DTLA with beds and props spread throughout. It’s as if Creep LA wants you to use your imagination since it’s supposed to feel like a dream. But this is immersive theatre we’re talking about, and I want to feel like I’m actually transported into their world. As for its story of insomnia and sleep, it wants to make the guests feel out of place since dreams can be weird. Since the story felt disjointed and the production was lacking, I never truly felt engaged or terrified. I felt like a passive participant going through the motion.

If you’re a hardcore fan of horror immersive, interactive theatre, I still recommend checking out Creep LA: Awake for a different and surreal experience.

Creep LA: Awake tickets are available at CreepLA.com.

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John 'Spartan' Nguyen
John 'Spartan' Nguyen 9305 posts

Assassin, scoundrel, head honcho.