“How on earth do you do that with a straight face?!” I asked the actress in demon makeup who was glaring at me just a few inches from my face. I couldn’t help myself from grunting some combination of anxious terror and giggly delight. Meanwhile she never broke character, even though I suspect she was relishing her success in making me scream.
I’m that person in a haunted house that every actor targets, and I can’t blame them. I’m way too easy to scare and it’s got to be a total blast for them to find people like me. I can’t bear to watch horror movies, but for some unexplainable reason I love haunted house attractions. I look forward to them every fall, and laugh-scream like a maniac the whole way through.
If you also enjoy a good scare, here are some recommendations for you. We tried two excellent haunted attractions, and rated them according to scariness.
COX FARMS FIELDS OF FEAR
Fields of Fear is the nighttime celebration at the Cox Farms Fall Festival. After the sun goes down, the corn maze becomes the Cornightmare, the hayride becomes a journey through a Zombie Zoo, and the ImagiNature trail becomes the Forest: Back 40. There are also bonfires, apple cider, carnival games, a dance pavilion, kettle corn, and other snacks. Most of the daytime attractions are closed, but the huge Dino Slide is open. You’re never too old for the Dino Slide.
I give Fields of Fear a rating of PG or PG-13. Actors jump out and scare you, but it’s not gory or intense. It’s a great choice for teenagers, but Cox Farms doesn’t recommend it for children under 12 years old.
MARKOFF’S HAUNTED FOREST
Now if you’re looking for something truly intense, make the drive out to Markoff’s Haunted Forest. This beloved Halloween attraction is one of the best anywhere near DC, with elaborate sets and costumes and a huge number of terrifying actors around every bend.
Markoff’s keeps growing each year — if it’s been a while since you last visited, you’ll want to return to check out their newly added second forest trail and the new Finney’s Funhouse, as well as the original forest trail and the horrors of the Town.
I give Markoff’s Haunted Forest a rating of R. It is scary, gory, and high-impact. Markoff’s doesn’t recommend it for kids under age 12, but personally I think it’s more appropriate for ages 16 and up. But then again, I’m as squeamish as can be and I still love it, so use your own discretion before taking the family there.
Markoff’s Haunted Forest is located at 19120 Martinsburg Road in Dickerson, Maryland, about one hour from Reston. Trust me, it’s worth the drive! It’s open Thursday-Sunday nights through Halloween.
Which haunted house should we try next? We’d love suggestions!