Having been through Scream Camp at Higher Counthill Farm twice now, There was alot of anticipation of just what the unleashed version would be. Lead by Calum Beckett and his fantastic dedicated team one thing I knew for sure was that whatever The Ritual was going to be it was going to be a success.
The standard run of Scream Camp is far from your usual scare experience, Merging story-driven narrative, Fun campfire games and intense mid-extreme challenges, I was more than aware of just what could be on the proverbial menu.
Arriving back at HCF at 9:45 pm the anticipation was building and was only mounting when a group of fully white-clad men and women turned up to meet us, The tense nature was already showing a preview of just what kind of show we were about to experience. Once all of the guests were accounted for we were taken down the road this time away from camp to stand in front of an abandoned imposing farmhouse with the only light being from the candles situated in the top three windows, the centre window also hosting a noose. After the safety info was read out we were handed blindfolds to which must remain on our heads at all times, If they were not covering our eyes then they must be resting on our heads. The order was given and we were blindly lead into the unknown and the dark of the house.
Before long we had found ourselves in the attic of the house and face to face with the infamous Charlie Howell, Clad in dark robes, a stark contrast to his followers all in white. We were there to be initiated into his family and throughout the next coming hours were tested with challenges of the mind, body and morals. One thing that has to be noted when sat in the ritual room of Charlie’s attic was the full-on atmospheric and immersive setting that was all around us, The only light in the whole house was from candles, A repeating haunting soundtrack ,a sigil on a banner on the back wall and to top it off …A ritual sacrifice in the form of Emma Jaura, Her dilemma and fear played to absolute perfection. Charlie explained that his followers with white stripes on their faces were his trusted superiors, All of what we hoped to become, However, there was also a few adorned with red stripes, These were the inferiors, the ones Charlie had lost trust in and had been disappointed by. Our first challenge was so simple yet so devious. Just one simple question for each initiate, if only the questions were so simple. These ranged from “Have you ever wished to kill a family member, What is your biggest sin” and the one I faced ” Tell me, Have you ever thought about suicide” to which was answered in raw unapologetic form.
This first question set your standing amongst Charlies ranks as each of us was placed on one side of the family negated by our answers.
To go through each and every challenge in detail of this night would turn this into an essay so I shall try and keep this brief.
There were tests of trust, Blindly allowing Charlie and his followers to place your hand in all sorts of uncomfortable substances.
Tests of inflicting pain on others, or rather the poor sacrifice on the ritual altar.
Tests of your pain endurance, Holding an ice cube till it melts while having hot wax placed on your hand.
Tests of teamwork, Allowing others to guide you through a pre-laid out maze of tape on the floor and passing multiple eggs from spoon to spoon with messy results if you failed.
Displays of Charlie’s ideals of sex, Sat in a room with a floor of condoms while a striptease by the drag talents of Jake Jones pushes you to your most uncomfortable limit.
And then the moral challenges, each of us at one time in the night unbeknownst to each other had been asked by the lead superior to get her out of Charlie’s cult. This addition was actually pure genius as you found yourself in this conflicting situation of wanting to help, yet never wanting to fail Charlie. The crescendo to this immersive masterpiece came when we were taken back up to the attic for the final time, We had passed all Charlies challenges and were all about to be initiated into his family as superior members. Yet one question remained from Charlie to our group. “Do you know of any betrayal to me in my family” After a tense 30 seconds Mikey spoke up” Your lead superior” This set up the undeniably intense finale as all hell broke loose, Charlie lost his composure and executed his lead superior in horrific palpable force breaking down into utter regret moments later turning his anger and fury on those who spoke up against the lead. I could never betray her as all I saw was Scream Camps Lola and i think everyone knows i am devout team, Lola! The other followers asked us to leave the house, the soundtrack echoing the derelict rooms as Charlies regret spiralled out of control, Stepping out of the house the air was filled with pained calls, “OMG Charlie What’s he done!” I knew at this point exactly what had happened and turning round to see Charlie hanging in the top middle window was enough to break me for personal reasons. But that being set it was the intense ending that suited this show to a tee. Rushed back to our cars, We had just completed the Ritual , Left shaken, shocked and amazed and even days after still processing those 4 hours at Higher Counthill Farm. I honestly can not wait to see what the future hold for the Scream Camp team in the future because if the past is anything to go by, the only way is up for this amazing, dedicated family of talented actors.
Scream Camp returns for its second year next year for its 10 hour overnight experience. Tickets are available from the Scream Camp website along with more information!