Eager to capitalize on the spirit of Halloween, students of all years had queued up to experience the “Quincy Haunted House,” and the size of the queue was the first scare of the night. Friends cracked jokes, Snapchatted, and played slide while attempting to ward off the mounting anxiety. Shrieks, expletives, and the periodic roar of a chainsaw emanated from the closed doors of the course, reminding those waiting in line what lay in store. After some waiting (and a group of five shamelessly cutting us), we arrived at the front of the line.
Garrett M. Wen ’18 opened the door and grinned, welcoming his next three victims to the scariest two minutes and 14 seconds of their lives. Wen—with his menacing, sadistic grin—was the impetus for the Quincy Haunted House, but for unexpected reasons.
“Garrett gets scared very easily, so over the last year, we’d hide in key areas of his room. And when Garrett would get in, we wouldn’t even have to say ‘WAH!’ We’d just say ‘Hey Garrett’ and he’d go “AHHH!’” said Max Y. Hsiao ’18, Wen’s roommate.
After a particularly good scare on Wen, Hsiao and his roommates came up with an idea. “Yo why don’t we scare people in our house? Wen had experience running a haunted house, so why don’t we do this here?” said Hsiao.
And now, their idea had become a reality. A reality that became all too clear when Wen shut the door, handed me the flashlight, and told me that his roommates had gone missing, and I needed to find them. The flashlight made the terrifying scenery all too clear. A chilling soundtrack underscored bloody sheets, shadows lurking just out of view, and a labyrinth of narrow walkways obscured in darkness. The set did not at all look like a room in Quincy’s basement. For all intents and purposes, it was a haunted asylum brimming with masked monsters.
What separates this haunted house from all others? Wen and Hsiao’s unyielding determination to disorient. For the duration of the course the same three masked men relentlessly jump out, attacking from the sides, in front and behind. There is never a safe second in this maze. The knowledge that a peer in a mask is inevitably waiting at the next turn, or perhaps is directly behind, serves as no protection when the moment arises.
Wen and Hsiao clearly love what they’re doing. They’re not bored teenagers in it for a few bucks. They took the time and care to create a truly terrifying environment, and on top of that, put on a spectacular show. Every jump scare was a leap, every “boo” is a “BOO!,” and every single second is made both enjoyable and utterly frightening. Wen could have easily strung together a few bloodied bedsheets and called it a day. But he and his roommates committed to creating not just a novelty, but an experience. I have yet to hear of one student who was not properly spooked by Wen’s haunted house (though contrarians, please do speak up).
This year, Halloween fell in the middle of the week. But in the face of a potentially bland and banal holiday, one suite put its collective foot down. With time and love, Wen and suite created a truly superb haunted house, one that was the highlight of Harvard’s Halloween season. May this haunted house outstay Wen’s four years, and deservedly enter the pantheon of wonderful Harvard traditions.
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