I’ve discovered the scariest thing about this Halloween isn’t zombies or creepy clowns | Emma Brockes

In New York, a haunted house for adults gave me only a minor chill – but the real horror was not immediately recognisable

A friend has tickets to a Halloween attraction in downtown New York, marketed as a haunted house for adults and featuring chambers of horror that include a “killer clown room”, “the crypt”, and something called “maggot invasion.” It sounds, simultaneously, horrible and lame, and if I hadn’t spent every Friday night for the past 18 months on my sofa, mindlessly scrolling, I would have turned her down in an instant. As it is, it seems churlish to reject the offer to do something new. “Terrific,” she says, and sends me a note from the organisers: guests are advised not to wear white because of all the fake blood.

I love horror movies, and zombies, but I am unfun about Halloween, which in the US seems to go on for weeks. One of the upsides of Covid was the cancellation of indoor trick or treating, which in our apartment building traditionally involves dozens of kids fighting to get in the elevator to have first crack at the candy on each floor. (There are two wings of 20 floors in our building-enough sugar to ensure the onset of what might politely be called instability.) This year, the trick or treating will be outside again, a definite improvement, but the Halloween parties are back on and the time suck of ensuring my children are happy in their costumes – this year I have a vampire queen, and a “cat-dinosaur” – is as much of a drag as it ever was. It is in this spirit that I take the subway downtown.

Emma Brockes is a Guardian columnist

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