House of Torment kills in the haunted house industry


House of Torment is open rain or shine this Halloween season.

There’s nothing like a good scare to get in the Halloween spirit, which is why this weekend I visited House of Torment, Austin’s most talked-about haunted house.

House of Torment is locally famous for its killer makeup jobs, extraordinary props and actors wholly dedicated to their roles — three factors that can make or break a haunted house.

When you’re there, you’re seeking a surreal experience — something that takes you out of everyday life, makes you feel like you’re actually in danger of being slaughtered by evil Minotaurs or eaten by sea monsters. While House of Torment isn’t as scary as its advertisements make it seem, it definitely provides an outlandish, surreal experience.

The moment you join the queue to get inside, zombies and dead brides maids run at you with chainsaws; and at some point in the line, you’re forced to take a picture with this evil, pedophilic clown who breathes heavily on you.

Warning: if you are afraid of clowns DO NOT go to House of Torment.

There are three haunted houses at the site that you get to go through when you buy a ticket; and one of them, the Slaughterhouse, is an evil, bloodthirsty clown-themed maze.

Walking into it, you’re like “why did I subject myself to this?” And every time you think you’ve escaped the maze, another deranged clown jumps out and tries to kill you.

But it wasn’t too scary, because the event staff had to hurry big groups through the houses so that the huge crowd waiting to get in wouldn’t get too impatient.

Cody Stillman, a House of Torment veteran from Round Rock agrees.

“Honestly, this year fell a bit flat for me. The level of people in each house made it more like a conga line tour of the house. It’s hard to be startled… when you can see the guy ten people ahead get the jump scare first,” Stillman said.

While House of Torment wasn’t petrifying, it was still fun, and the characters were incredibly convincing.

One of the most believable was Matt the Clown, played by Austin resident Matthew Jeske.

Jeske, House of Torment production artist and actor, is an experienced vet of the Halloween-entertainment industry.

“I’ve been doing haunted house stuff for 20 years and always loved House of Torment. I was friends with people who worked for the company and when I decided to move to Austin they hooked me up with the people to talk to about getting a job there, and, well, here I am,” Jeske said.

Jeske also said that working at House of Torment is the perfect job for college students because of the flexible schedule and night and weekend shifts.

That would be the coolest job ever- running at your customers with chainsaws all day. Some days when I worked as a cashier in the food industry, that’s all I want to do.

According to House of Torment’s website, the application process is a breeze.

“You just show up and we’ll walk you through the rest… When you show up we’ll have you fill out an application, then walk you through what we do here and what we’re looking for. After that we’ll bring you to a scene and have you show us how you’d scare in the haunted house,” reads the website.