Saturday, October 6, 2012

The Haunted Barn at Cagle's Family Farm 2012

                Are the cows cooking up some mischief on the farm? Nope, those are just the lunatics loose at the asylum known as the F.A.R.M. (which stands for something that we just can't remember).  On the back roads of Canton, GA is Cagle's Family Farm which hosts The Haunted Barn.  In their third year of operations as a haunt they have chosen the theme of a tour through a very insane little asylum.  We are going to assume that as the month moves forward there will be more staff in places around the site to direct people, but for us it wasn't that way.  We found our way to a parking space, only to walk to the ticket booth and see a staff member directing cars to parking.  We then found our way to some arrows for getting to the haunted house, only to find that there was a very large group near the arrows and we couldn't get around them.  When a staff member finally got to us in the group we were told that we didn't need to be there since we were going to the haunt, but since we were standing directly in front of the arrows for where we wanted to go (and so was the staff member and the large group of people who we now assume were going on the hayride) we had to assume we were to get in line there and wait for directions.  Such a fitting start to our trip to the asylum.

                When you enter into the queue area you find a set that does seem to fit the bill for a scary place, but once you realize that this is a mental hospital you have to wonder about the apparent storm remnants on the home like front porch on which you are waiting to enter from.  There are some other sets that also seem very much like a house, rather than the asylum of legend which is in the video introduction.  These mild inconsistencies may irritate some people, but they are not a major issue to the storyline of the haunt and can be overlooked.  You are introduced to the history of the F.A.R.M. program/facility with a video in the first room of the haunt.  This video is well done and serves its purpose.  There is information within it that will come back to haunt you later, so beware.

                We found the sets and other creative uses for materials to be thought through and implemented fairly well, so this does help to keep you in the story.  The lighting did detract from these well-played sets with an abundance of strobe lights that, though they do dilate your pupils and effect your vision, also wouldn't be the type of lighting in a creepy old asylum.  When the actors wore light devices, used flashlights, and had bare bulbs in strategic places it made those areas much better.  It is our belief that a more realistically spooky lighting effect is preferable to a modern strobe light that doesn't fit in with the situation.  Strobe lights are great for lightning in storms if you have thunder sound effects, but only when set to flash correctly with the sounds.  Since this situation didn't fit that bill we didn't like those random strobe effects.

                The crazies within the asylum did attempt to catch their visitors off guard, and were successful sometimes.  The major challenge during our visit was that we absolutely found one of their key weaknesses.  They need to establish a way to know how many people are within a tour group for the asylum so that the lunatics are aware of how many victims are in each group.  We toured with a couple of young ladies who were highly frightened and moved very quickly, jogging forward at points, through the asylum.  Their speed, combined with our desire to actually see things, separated our group.  This doesn't have to be a huge problem for a haunted attraction, however it is when the actors aren't well versed in scare and retreat strategies.  These actors didn't retreat after their scares and were completed caught off guard when we entered their scenes.  Many of them couldn't get back into character and even really attempt to scare us.  This ruined many of the scenes for us.  The girls ahead of us were very young and appeared to have been scared by what they experienced, though we couldn't always understand why.

                This event is set up to add another attraction to an existing family event on a local farm.  It really isn't designed for haunt enthusiasts, so please don't anticipate that if you go.  On our scale of one to five severed heads we scored The Haunted Barn at Cagle's Family Farm with one and a half severed heads.  Best wishes to them.