May 26, 2022
Witnessing a slasher film from the safe distance between seat and screen is one thing, but just imagine being in the room where it happens when the masked killer strikes.
No need to merely imagine anyone.
Blood Moon by Vigilance Theater Group, a creative group dedicated to original, immersive experiences inspired by “high art and pop culture alike,” can put you in a seat right inside the room where it happens.
At an outwardly pleasant house in Sewickley, an intrepid dozen or so audience members gather as a murder mystery unfolds, inspired by classic slasher films, such as Halloween and Scream, “with a dose of our own supernatural tendencies,” said writer and company cofounder Sean Collier.
You enter with a warning that there will be “scenes of violence and terror.” And there will be blood. This is not for the faint of heart; you must be 18 or older to attend.
Patrons are seated at the perimeter of a living room alongside a spacious kitchen. The scene directly in front of you is what should be a Halloween celebration among a small circle of friends. An air of dread permeates the scene, underscored by well-timed lighting and sound effects.
Not wanting to give any spoilers from the preview I attended, the online description of Blood Moon allows that there has been “a mysterious string of murders on campus. While most of the student body has lost the spooky spirit thanks to the killer on the loose, six friends decide to head to a quiet suburban neighborhood and throw their own party. Unfortunately, someone has followed them — and the killer might not be the only uninvited guest in the house.”
The invited guests – the audience – will be asked to decide which character could be a vicious killer. At intervals, audience members may Interrogate the characters and eventually name the murderer of their choice before the big reveal.
“We tried to capture not only the circumstances and setting of a satisfying horror flick, but also the humor and relationships — the lived-in reality of the lives of the young characters, with all its uncertainty and social tension, and the easy fun of a night hanging out with close friends,” Collier said. “Of course, we also hope to capture the fear of an unknown threat lurking behind the suburban quiet.”
The “supernatural tendencies,” as seen in previous Vigilance productions, are pretty darn creepy here and may help as you consider the killer’s identity.
Collier, a performer, and writer who critiques movies for Pittsburgh Magazine and the WDVE-FM Morning Show, knows his way around the sinister atmosphere of a solid slasher flick.
“While most people have seen at least a handful of horror movies, there’s something much different about seeing that type of content in an up-close and even interactive setting, so we recommend that audiences only attend if they’re comfortable with the subject matter,” he said of Blue Moon. “And be prepared to ask questions and listen for clues.”
When given the opportunity, jump in with questions. Although I did not pick the killer, the majority of the audience did. I believe my pick was sound, based on the evidence. Still, I admit that I fixated on one element instead of considering all the clues.
I also must confess that I am not a horror enthusiast, and I usually don’t do well with blood. Yet I was fully engrossed by the relationships and action, helped by the desire to find out who was behind the mask and the murders.
Blood Moon is directed by Renee Rabenold, with impressive integral lighting by Paige Borak and sound by Janus Young. Portraying the six friends and one killer – but which one is it? – are Allie Lampman, Kalyani Singh, Jenny Hoppes, Marisa Postava, Jeremy Beveridge, Ashley McKinney, and Stacey Fleurime.
Blood Moon by Vigilance Theater Group runs May 27-June 5. The action takes place in a Sewickley house; information about location, COVID protocols, and more will be provided when purchasing tickets. Details: vigilancetheater.com.