Fear, joy fill Knox Center


Denis Perez / The Advocate

A group of students scream as they run past a scare spot during the free carnival scream house maze in the Knox Center on Tuesday.

By Xavier Johnson, Scene Editor

As night fell on Halloween, a carnival scare house in the John and Jean Knox Center for the Performing Arts administered a healthy dose of screams and thrills for the first time in a decade.

It took about two minutes to traverse the maze of clown-filled, carnival-themed horrors such as a cannibalistic butcher, gleeful executioner and imprisoned demented clowns.

Knox Center lighting technician Cody Poehnelt said he heard Liberal Arts Division Dean Jason Berner talk about his fear of clowns which inspired the haunted house’s theme, along with the timely nature of the recent reboot of the horror movie “It” in theaters.

More than 120 students, faculty and community members went through the Associated Student  Union’s sponsored haunted house.

As each group of five entered the haunted house their reactions while coming out varied, like Comet volleyball coach Christy Tianero, who came out gasping for breath out of fear.

“I just closed my eyes and ran through, I didn’t want to be in front,” she said.

Other people like Richmond High School student Monika Raygoza said the haunted house was “all right” but not as scary as others she has attended.

Her friend Lucero Rio, also a Richmond High School student, said the haunted house was her first ever.

“I was screaming the entire time,” Rio said.

Poehnelt said he wanted to bring back the haunted house to enhance campus culture.

“We do a lot of cultural and other important events. I want the campus to have more leisure activities for the community,” he said.

Psychology major Kira Harrison said the haunted house was “dope” and she went through two times.

She said what scared her the most was the clown that trailed behind the group leading them from room-to-room.

Poehnelt said his theater background contributed to how the scare house was planned. “Everything is planned for a reason. It wasn’t just about one area but how they flow from one to the next,” Poehnelt said.

The different areas displayed a different horror trope with a carnival twist.

The grotesque scenes were depicted using body horror, jump scares and seamlessly manufactured rising tension.

The entire set was built with about 72 hours of work, with a lot of it being created and finalized on Halloween, the day of the event.

Poehnelt said planning the haunted house was a lot like his experience planning a theater production. He said he starts with a plan then as it becomes a reality he discards the unobtainable goals and focuses on the realistic, evolving aspects of the process.

“We looked at our time frame and made it the best we could with what we were given. With more people and artists, we can make it even bigger and better in future years,” Poehnelt said.

Middle College High School student Melissa Madriz was declared the most scared by her group of five friends.

She said her fears were intensified by her spike in adrenaline while waiting in line.

During the intermission, that lasted approximately an hour, the scares and screams transformed into music and dance in the Knox Center lobby.

There were refreshments and snacks like cupcakes and fruit available for guests to consume while in line.

Poehnelt said he wants the haunted house to grow as an annual event with more performers and designers to pull of more ambitious plans with increased participation.