A.F.’s Haunted Forest depends on your imagination

American Fork’s Haunted Forest has been scaring Utahans for at least a generation. For those that have not yet been to this ghoulish Utah Valley fixture, all the terror comes down to the patron’s state of mind.

The event is comprised of the Gateway-like Psycho Manor and the forest itself. The sudden loud noises, flashing lights and nearly-dizzying hallways of the Psycho Manor push you into the scary atmosphere right from the start. More of the same continues into the much larger main attraction – the mile-long forest.

The forest itself is obviously very reliant on the natural surroundings of the area and definitely utilizes the landscape to unsettle those walking through. The forest employs traditional devices like dark rooms, mazes and the always-disturbing chainsaw guys.

Dank mine shafts and other underground structures play on claustrophobia. Topical theatrics like “Swine Flu Guy” and Jack Links Jerky parodies are some of the less traditional scaring tactics used along the terrifying, disgusting, oddly creative journey.

The tour depends on robotics and technical effects to add to the experience, and these effects were very noticeable and thus notably less scary. For example, the large, robotic werewolves and other monsters didn’t seem necessary.

Live actors and the general ambiance of the forest easily outshine the tour’s technical effects. More mechanical portions of the trail like the loud noises from guns and air canisters did shock, but the timing was off too frequently to create a strong reaction.

The Haunted Forest is really dependent on your state of mind. Everyone knows you won’t actually get your legs cut by the chainsaws and that guy isn’t really being attacked by a pack of wolves, but it’s nice to succumb to the irrationality that these places require.

When terror is your goal, rationale ruins the fun. Go with the intention of being scared silly, running from anything that moves and witnessing the theatrics of these seasonal events and characters.