Attraction Review: Screamfest Burton

Unlike the other attractions I've been revisiting in the UK this year, I'd been to Screamfest Burton fairly recently during it's last run in 2019. We had fun visiting back then and I knew the event had made some changes since my last visit including updates to Freak Out and their corn maze, as well as the introduction of a brand new attraction in Le Theatre Noir. Plus, I'll never turn down the opportunity to visit my favourite maze in the UK so off to the midlands we went!

It was absolutely buzzing when we arrived, do good to see these home grown events packed with people excited to get their spook on after a year off last year. Can't remember if it's been there previously, but the entrance is decorated with a hearse that periodically shoots flames, very macabre and spooky. The central plaza area essentially looks the same as last year - you won't find a ton of dedicated street team wandering around like you do at Shocktoberfest and The Howl but there were a handful of creepy characters to keep the spooky atmosphere going between houses. I remember back in 2019 there were some very cool costume characters on stilts wandering around that were nowhere to be seen this year which was a bit of a shame but there was a stage packed with back to back acts including live music, burlesque acts and stunts which isn't something I remember from previous years. Cool to see the event developing the entertainment portfolio because I do find that unless you want to hang around drinking you can very much be in danger of not having much to do once the mazes are done!

New for 2021 is Le Theatre Noir, and let me get a little into why I've not rated this attraction. Le Theatre Noir is listed on the website as a 'scare', alongside the horror mazes at Screamfest Burton. This plus the fact that it was built where Insomnia and Soul Seekers stood previously I think is fair reason enough for myself (and pretty much everybody else considering the general consensus on Twitter the evening we visited) to feel a little let down with this attraction. I went in expecting a scare maze, and a bloody good scare maze too considering how excellent Insomnia and Soul Seekers were before it. If you go into something expecting one thing and for it to be something else entirely I don't think you can be in the right mindset to judge it fairly, hence why I'm not going to give this attraction a pumpkin rating like I do with others. I wish I'd had the opportunity to reframe my perspective and KNOW it was a spooky show, but alas here we are. 

THAT SAID I did very much enjoy it. Essentially it feels like a Dungeons show, with the central stage hosting some spooky exposition from our main host which is supplemented by special effects including strobe lighting, a terrifying soundtrack, live actors performing jump scares and atmospheric drizzling rain. If anybody is an American Horror Story fan, the general vibe it gave me was Edward Mordrake on Halloween night from Freak Show. Very morbid and dramatic. It's something very different and not something I've seen at any other haunt in the UK and I applaud Screamfest for having the balls to do something so out of the box. I'm willing to bet we'll see similar things pop up at other events around the UK in subsequent years no doubt!

I was a little worried going into Love Hurts. I love this attraction so much, and I always worry that I've built it up in my memory a little too much to the point that it'll be impossible for it to compete in reality. But no, it's still absolutely excellent. It is just so, so immersive. In the queue you really do feel like you're waiting in the street to enter some gritty rock club, the soundscape design here is particularly effective in convincing us of that. Ben said it reminded him of the queue for Rock 'n' Roller Coaster and I have to agree. Everything is so dingy and seedy - and that's before we've even entered the toilets of the club!

The storyline too is so very unique - I'm still yet to experience anything quite like it. It's just got this real mean streak about it that I find absolutely intoxicating - it's like the attraction is laughing at you and taunting you the entire way through. It's visually vivid with lurid, almost fluorescent colours against a dark and grimy backdrop, and that finale still gets me to this day. I find it all very Rob Zombie - the 'mystery date' character gives me big Dr. Satan vibes, it's very much up my street. This year it seemed like there were a ton more actors than ever before, particularly in the 'meat grinder' scene which was absolutely horrific to walk through. Perfection.

You have no idea how happy it makes me that this maze has finally had the makeover it deserves. The Dia de los Muertos theme always had me squirming slightly over whether it was 'OK' or not, and the whole thing felt way more drawn out than it needed to be, with the trailer taking us away from the core atmosphere of the event without ever really justifying the need for it to. So yes, new for 2021 is Creed Farm - a new look for this most creepy of corn mazes where the horrifying truth is that we are the ones being harvested. And yes, look, the 'fresh meat we're going to butcher and eat you' theme may be getting a little tired, but Creed Farm puts it's own unique spin on it that uses the corn maze it's set in in a way that makes sense. 

This is probably the most scared I've been in a horror maze in 2021 too - solely down to the way this maze begins. Ben and I were split up from Conor and Jake to start our journey as we groped our way along a single rope in actual pitch darkness. Sod bags on heads - this is how you do sensory deprivation properly. Walking along with no idea where we were going was absolutely vile - particularly when we were accosted by what we initially thought was a drone that had Ben letting out the loudest scream I've ever heard. Turns out it was an actor wearing nightvision goggles, but either way those tiny red lights in the pitch black were absolutely horrific to behold and I couldn't wait to get the hell away from it ASAP.

The rest of the maze is essentially a mash-up of all the scare maze tropes I adore - harvest/scarecrow/corn maze aesthetic, chainsaws, blood, guts, gore and FIRE! Oh, and this maze ends with a chainsaw wielding bunny too - must be a thing this year and I very much appreciate that.

So this year was my second go at Zombee Zoo and I've concluded that it's just not really for me. Everybody else seems to rant and rave about this attraction, calling it their favourite thing ever, but personally I guess I just don't really get it? I think the concept is fantastic and so original - hillbillies capture zombies in a post-apocalyptic world and house them in a zoo for people to pay and visit. Yes, good I get it. What I don't get is the random themes for each enclosure - cheerleader zombies, OK fine. Santa zombie...OK? Hotdog zombie? Chicken suit zombie? Just...I don't know, I know I'm in the minority here but for me it's not scary and I find it distracting that I'm trying to figure out what the hell everything is meant to be. 

I much prefer the second half of this maze from gift-shop onwards through the mine. Again, I can't pretend like I have a clue what's going on but the theming is excellent and grandma blasting you with a shotgun is fantastic. I guess my other beef here is the pacing - why do we have to queue half way around? Genuine question - I thought we were waiting for a big show piece or something but once our 'turn' came around we just carried on through the maze as normal. Unless I missed something major that was supposed to happen but didn't for us?

Blah blah blah I don't get scared of clowns blah blah blah yes we know. FreakOut was probably the weakest of the mazes for me in previous years so I was pleased to see this had been updated for 2021 with a brand new narrative to recontextualise what could have easily become a quickly irrelevant attraction for Screamfest. With the fun house now abandoned, we're met by two local ravers, played incredibly by the actors for our group, as they explain that tonight's rave will take place inside amongst the decommissioned animatronics and fun house mirrors. Again, Screamfest set themselves apart with endlessly original storylines that you will only find here. Amazing. 

Sadly the rave storyline did kind of fall flat a little after the opening scene and it felt a bit like we were just inside a clown-infested fun house once again. I would've liked to have seen a stronger take on the raver characters like those we met in the pre-show and a clearer definition between fun house and abandoned fun house. That said, it's a nit-picky gripe because we did have fun in this attraction, it was really high energy and I loved the different rooms you get to explore in here - particularly the giant inflatable balls!


Another great night at Screamfest Burton then. I'm so pleased to see improvements made to attractions that were previously maybe lacking a little something something and so relieved to see that my beloved Love Hurts is still as excellent as ever. I'd love to see some more developments and updates to Le Theatre Noir for future years and as mentioned, I'd be intrigued to experience it again but this time going in knowing it is a show and not a maze. I do think the lack of a fifth 'proper' horror maze is felt, especially as Soul Seekers and Insomnia were pretty big boots to fill. 

Have you visited Screamfest Burton this spooky season? What was your favourite haunt? Let me know in the comments, I'd love to have a chat!

Talk later xoxo,