Just how scary is Fear Factory?

Olivia (a fellow UVU Review staffer), Erin (a friend) and I went through the haunted house on Saturday, Sept. 15 to find out where it exists on the scare spectrum: kinda spooky, pretty scary, or bone-chilling, out-of-body terrifying.

Before our descent into hell, we asked the owner where it falls on that spectrum. Rob Dunfield, co-owner of the seasonal thrill destination in Salt Lake City, said that, although it’s relative to the person, Fear Factory is “on the upper end” of scary.

“I heard someone once explain it to me. They said, ‘Castle of Chaos is where you send your junior high kids, Nightmare [On 13th] is where you send your high school kids and Fear Factory is more like college-aged and above,’” Dunfield said.

Buzzfeed agreed with this analysis when in 2016 it listed Fear Factory as one of “23 Haunted Houses Around the World That Will Freak You the F— Out”..

The haunted house, which recently opened for its seventh halloween season, boasts a few features that make its appeal different that other haunts along the Wasatch Front.

The first is its reputation as an actual haunted place. Every month, dozens of supernatural ghost hunters tour the factory, seeking communion with the dead, which brings us to statistic No. 1:

Actual ghosts seen (or felt) during the visit: 0.

Photo courtesy of Fear Factory.

Don’t expect a demonic presence — it’s a fine haunted house, to be sure, but it’s not thanks to spirits in limbo. In fact, most of the scares come from the living. Fear Factory places an emphasis on actors delivering the screams with limited use of animatronics, and for a few extra bucks, you can purchase a glow stick necklace that tells them they’re allowed to touch you.

Even in a factory of fear, I’m always a journalist, so I went against my instincts and wore the necklace for a few minutes. It definitely added tension to the appearance of the actors, even though the worst they did was corner me, touch my shoulder and ooze creepy threats.

“We have a very active cast in our show,” Dunfield said. “There are about a hundred actors in there every night giving it their heart and soul.”

And nose— they seem to smell fear. Olivia and Erin were pretty on-edge during most of the tour and many actors could sense it, stalking them a little longer than their initial apparition. The actors in the brand-new 3D clown lair — which the group agreed was the most impressive part — were particularly unrelenting.

That isn’t to say you don’t go through the expected whistles and sirens of a classic haunted house, which brings us to Statistic No. 2:

Approximate jump-scares: 45. (Yes, I counted. Once again, I am always a journalist.)

And, since we’re in that vein, the third and final statistic:

Times I screamed like a little girl: two. Olivia and Erin’s tally would probably stretch into the hundreds, but I full-on screamed exactly two times.

The first was in a chain-link fence area where a chainsaw-wielding creeper lunged at me; he looked like he was going right for my loins. So, yeah, I screamed.

The second came on the “Fear Fall,” an exhilarating three-story platform jump you can pay a little extra for. My knees were still shaking 30 minutes later. (They also have a zip line, which is as amusing as you’d expect.)

Overall, Fear Factory does lean more towards scary than other haunted houses. And this highlights a truth we must admit in this crazy world: the spirits of the living will always be scarier than the spirits of the dead.

For more UVU Review coverage of this issue:

Haunted Houses and Utah’s moral climate