Dating in Singapore, you’re always looking for new ideas. Some are amazing, but I got the feeling that this date would be a bad one from the moment my boyfriend climbed into the car.
He looked at me, nervously. “I hope they’ll be gentle,” he whispered.
I wasn’t sure how to answer that, given we were on our way to Universal Studios Singapore Halloween Horror Nights 7. I’m not sure witches/zombies/vampires are super gentle by nature. But both of us are definitely not the type of person who willingly choose to be terrified; so I nodded encouragingly, like people who are literally paid to scare the sh*t out of us would definitely opt for a soft “boo” as their preferred form of terrification.
As far as I’m concerned, being alone at home is scary enough, even without visions of horror movies dancing in your head. But some psychologists do argue that fear can heighten sexual attraction. In 2003, a bunch of non-romantic partners were put on rollercoasters. Afterwards, those who rode the rollercoaster were asked to rate a group’s attractiveness based on photos, and they rated them higher compared to those who saw the same photos, but hadn’t been on a ride.
At this point, given my boyfriend will no doubt be reading this, I feel the need to caveat by saying I already find him good-looking. As we approached the attraction, I began to wonder why I agreed to this instead of staying at home and being a couch potato on a Friday night. Just as I started questioning my life choices, we were confronted by clowns in medical garb, their mouths covered in creepy slashes of red. The vendors were also a little too convincing with their expressionless zombie faces.
Honestly, my heart rate probably hit the roof from just that, and I would have liked to call it a day. But out of obligation to do my job, we stepped inside, fighting the crowds running around in lit-up devil horns, to the first scare house.
There are five Haunted Houses in total:
Each house has its own smell, bought from a convention in the US. It really does add to the experience, especially Hex, which smelt like a damp forest, and TeRRORcotta Empress, which smelt exactly like a cave full of clay statues.
I was told that the acting that the scare team do in there is so intense that they have to be swapped out every 45 minutes with the second team. I was impressed, but also worried because that meant they were that good.
First up was the mall. Having successfully avoided a lifetime of scary rides thus far, neither of us knew what to expect. But outside were some familiar faces:
It couldn’t be that bad if there were Sesame Street characters loosely associated with it, right?!
Two seconds in, and we were clutching hands like we were Jack and Rose from Titanic.
Actually, Rose and the piece of wood is probably more accurate. This felt life-threatening.
“I don’t need this,” my boyfriend whispered through clenched teeth, as a black silhouette literally came flying out of a wall at us. The soundtrack is eerie, the zombies pop out from where you least expect them to and even when you know they’re there, it doesn’t make it any less creepy as they start to walk up to you, swaying their heads slowly. The good thing is they’re not allowed to touch you (and for the record you’re not allowed to touch them either).
We tried to guess where they could be hiding to distract (and prepare) ourselves. We weren’t very good. “Over-scream” was the advice we had been given – apparently it’s better just to get it all out. I ended up doing a weird chortle instead. While I’m pretty sure the sound negated any feelings of extra attractiveness that may have been forming, at least it kept the actors away – I swear these people smell fear.
Finally, we dodged the last of the mangled zombies and were free. As we pushed outside, we looked at each other and laughed that special laugh of pent-up nerves. It felt more like we were partaking in a mental marathon than hanging out on a date. One down, four to go.
As we wove through the two scare zones (by the way, these will be your photo opportunities – but keep your eyes out for the creatures in all-black attires or you may find yourself having to beg your date to delete a few shots) and the next house, I started to get used to the feeling of constant vigilance and low-key terror. And, by the fourth and fifth houses, I was surprised to find I was kind of enjoying it.
It really was nice to experience something new together and honestly, the work that goes into the whole thing is just amazing. Did I find my boyfriend more attractive than normal? No. But even though I may never be able to sleep by myself in a dark house ever again, I would still enthusiastically recommend it, especially for a first date. The formula is perfect: There’s a reason to hold hands – you can say the nerves have more to do with the statues of disfigured people than the fact that you are trying to impress your date – and there’s always something to talk about.
Top tip though: we went in the VIP queue, and honestly if you are on a date the one thing I would tell you is, SHELL OUT FOR THE VIP TICKET. There’s nothing sexy about standing in a crazy long line…
One of the terrible things about Claire’s and my relationship is that we’re both mutually incapable of making a decision. Especially about dates.
In this case, our decision was made for us thanks to CLEO. It goes without saying it was not the date decision I would have made.
Pretty much every place was tailored specifically to try make me have some form of heart attack at every corner – and Claire’s insistence on me going in first into every place did not help me maintain the macho image I’d been carefully crafting over the past eight years.
The positive takeaway I got from this is that I’m now totally prepared for any Terracotta Warriors springing to life. The downside? I now can’t walk a corridor without expecting a dead body to come out of the ceiling (have fun with that!).
The highlight of the night was the final show in the auditorium – who knew the Black Death could be so entertaining (and acrobatic)?
All in all, if you’re one of those people that get a buzz out of the fear of imminent death, it’s a great experience – but this will be the one and only time for me, thanks.
More from CLEO:
7 Types Of Ghosts You Might Bump Into In Singapore
Kim Sohyun: “I didn’t believe in supernatural things until I acted in Bring It On, Ghost”
7 Places in Singapore That Might Be Super Haunted