Will you scream ‘Mercy’ at The 17th Door?

The 17th Door is a horror attraction in Tustin, California that has gained a lot of attention since its ‘freshman year’ last year. It’s not a haunted house but rather a horror house located between in the Tustin Marketplace between Home Depot and Nordstrom Rack.

The attraction follows Paula during her sophomore year of college and is not for the faint of heart.

Admission includes $25 to $35 a ticket, depending on which night of the week you go and you must sign a waiver. There are 21 rooms, including an escape room, which take an estimated 34 minutes to go through. Each room designed to affect all five senses. You may (WILL) be exposed to shocks, being touched, smells, fog, strobe lights, extreme temperatures and, in my case, being put in small containers.

In honor of Halloween and all things related, a few of us decided to check out the 17th door and see for ourselves if it was worth all the hype. Spoiler alert: it is.

Mackenzie Quinn, Filip Pejcinovic, Natalia Pourazar and I purchased our tickets, filled with excitement and anticipation.

Natalia was joined by some friends who all purchased the “Mercy Pendant” but really it was just a glow stick on string. Its purpose is to keep the characters from touching them. She went along with her friends and Mackenzie, Filip and I went off and got put in a group with another couple.

We were taken into a room where Paula, the main character, explained the rules: no touching the characters, enter the next room only when the light above turns green and, if absolutely necessary, yell “mercy” to leave.

The light above the first room turned green and so it began. We were ushered to sit in wheelchairs as a character talked to us. Out of nowhere, we were all shocked by the chairs, except for Filip. As we were exiting that room a character said “hope you enjoyed that because you’re in for more.”

The next room was the ‘escape the room’ round. We were given clues and tasks to perform, including all holding hands and getting shocked, again. We were unable to finish all the tasks in time but still moved on.

After, we went into a room and I was immediately grabbed by one of the characters, pushed into a locker and had the door slammed in my face. I couldn’t understand anything that was going on outside to everyone else. Next thing I know, I feel a hand brush down my head and I’m being told to crawl through a little tunnel. I crawled through, not knowing where I’d end up or if anything would pop out. I reach the end and one of the other guys from the group is waiting, having also crawled, and we’re greeted by the rest of the group.

Another room that followed was actually a school bus taking us to jail. Two jailbird characters were waiting for us. One spat all over Mackenzie and the other groped Filip, a common theme throughout the night.

Following that, we entered perhaps the worst room of the night. There was a big tesla coil surrounded by a cage. We were all instructed to hold it and did. The characters didn’t think I held it so they made me do it again. I wrapped my hands with my sleeves and did so. The character saw and yanked my hands off the cage, pulled my sleeves down and held my hands up against the cage by my wrists. The shocks kept getting worse and worse until it peaked and it felt as through a lightning bold had shot down to my finger.  I let out a huge yell and we all proceeded to the next room while my finger remained numb the rest of the night.

While some of the rooms carried the theme of Paula and her college experience, others were there for pure enjoyment and torture.

A room clearly for enjoyment and torture was a reptile themed room. I, once again, was taken and placed, this time, in a glass box. The character whispered, “I hope you like spiders,” as he shut the door and I felt panic flood. I couldn’t hear what was going on outside and I didn’t dare look up for spiders. I put my hood on and waited full of anxiety. All of a sudden, the glass box is tilted back and I placed my feet to the perimeter of the box and applied pressure so when the doors released I wouldn’t fall back.

Sure enough, I didn’t. I was greeted to an angry character that pushed me off the bed I was meant to fall on and I was reunited with the group.

Other rooms, however, continue the story of Paula and touch on some very heavy topics including, but not limited to, violent abortions, suggested child and sexual abuse, gun violence, bullying and more.

The themes and situations are definitely for a mature audience and many resonate with events currently going on in our society-gun violence, sexual assault and even clowns.

Overall, the experience was unlike any other. Universal Studios Horror Nights and Knotts Scary Farm have nothing on the 17th door. All in all, 10 out of 10, would recommend.

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