Haunting. Shocking. Indelible.
These are words that describe my feelings when I first saw The Exorcist.
The film is a benchmark in so many ways. It was the first horror film to be nominated for Best Picture. It helped lead the charge in a sequence of “demonic child” storylines. And it has often been replicated in many horror films today, irrefutably placing it among the kings of influential horror pop culture.
And now that influence has found its way to Universal Orlando’s Halloween Horror Nights in an all-new haunted maze. As with any horror property we collaborate with, our job is to create an attraction that adapts that property into a fully realized experience. That adaptation is a creative challenge in every case.
But translating The Exorcist presented us with many unique tests and questions. One big question was, “How do you adapt a film where most of the story takes place in a single bedroom?”
The answer we landed on was first to break down and assess all the visuals and moments from the film. Piece together every moment within that bedroom and examine why it was intense, scary or even vile. What textures can we reconstruct differently, sometimes in an incredibly abstract way?
The famous “pea soup” scene for instance. What if we were surrounded in the materials of the retch-covered bed? What if those layers of mattress padding literallyenveloped us? And let’s be honest, traversing through a vomit-covered bed is pretty horrifying and disgusting by itself. Now add a possessed girl into the mix!
Just like this amazing film, the maze needs to overcome you—even possess you (wink)—with its visuals, characters and environments. It needs to force you on its horrific quest for this young girl’s very soul and spit you out the other side. That is our goal and we are beside ourselves with excitement at the opportunity to do so this year.