By Joseph "Skull Vault" Walter
Right off the bat, the exterior of the attraction nails the "haunted house" vibe. Its spectacularly detailed and aged, with a very cool gate and frontward. The house itself looks like it could very well be a real place, and its eerie lights give off a nicely supernatural air.
Once inside, we're welcomed in the parlor by, presumably, the undead owners of the establishment, and are then escorted through the various scenes, which are staples like a gruesome kitchen, and others which are more unique, such as a crypt-like corridor.
The most impressive feature was just how much they were able to cram into the seemingly tiny space. The excellent facade out front leads the victims to believe that the house is a small, likely-one-floor home, but the variety of the rooms and the surprisingly length of the journey were continually mind-boggling.
The attention to detail within the scenes was also outstanding, with realistic props, aging, and truly impressive animatronics with a wide range of motion (including eyes!) and grotesque rotting flesh.
And while I wasn't technically "scared" at any point, the oppressive, surreal atmosphere, cramped spaces, and eerie darkness kept me on edge.
The only downside was the hellish heat (which was due to one of the air conditioning units supposedly being down during our visit) and the other was the lone "scare actor," who seemed more concerned with moving our group along (even before some of the goofy-but-charming) dialogue had concluded) and getting us out as fast as possible.
This was a shame, because the dialogue was humorous, and being able to get the full picture while taking in the excellent atmosphere was a treat. The other negative was the actor was not seemingly enjoying their role. He had no character or purpose to be there, other than to make sure no one touched the props, I suppose. There is a lot of room for improvement and characterization, and I'd hope to see that upon my next visit. What's the backstory of this lone caretaker? Does he have a name? Interaction would be a ton of fun. In fact, I recall from ages ago when "Hollowgraves" was at its previous location, Seaside, that the then-scare actor was very funny and into his performance, rather than cranky and gruff like this one.
Overall, though, "Hollowgraves Haunted Manor" is a classic walk-through, and a ton of light-hearted spooky fun (with some grisliness thrown in for good measure.)
Despite the bored actor, the setting and design of the tour more than made-up for any shortcomings, and left a lasting impression!
+ Excellent design.
+Outstanding attention to detail
+Wonderful props and animatronics
-Hotter than Hell
-Disinterested Scare Actor