The buzz around Black Market Escape Rooms has been high since it opened earlier in 2018. Touted as the “nation’s first R-rated escape room” and created by Knott’s Scary Farm vet, Jon Cooke, the new immersive horror experience is poised to become a blood-soaked destination for fans of the thrills of a haunted attraction and the brain-teasing puzzles of an escape room.
With our interest piqued, the Scarepop team ventured to Upland California to check out Black Market Escape Rooms’ first horror experience, MURDERCO. Upon arriving at a non-descript building adorned by Black Market Escape Room signage, we waited at the front entrance with a conspicuously tinted glass doors and windows that ensure you have no idea what you’re walking into. Once the doors opened, the experience began as soon as we walked into the lobby that is a mash-up of Halloween decor meets hunter’s lodge. It’s lovely, I swear. After a briefly summary of what MURDERCO is by a masked fellow that has an “Eyes Wide Shut” vibe going on, we learned the room’s “true” story – that this mysterious business is part of a chain of 37 locations around the country whose only product is theatrically-staged murder. While murder can only be served one way… bloody, we were given the opportunity to pick one of four artists to do the deed. Our group chose the artist known as “ManEater”, and it was a choice we’d soon regret once we entered the room.
Once inside the bowels of MURDERCO, we found ourselves peering through glass at our artist and a blindfolded victim whose life was literally in our hands. Unfortunately for him, we all wanted him dead and ManEater was more than happy to oblige. Without giving too much away, the murder was participation-based, funny, crude and disgustingly bloody. Once the murdering and dismemberment was over, things inevitably went sideways and our group was left to figure out how to get the f-out in one hour or suffer the same fate we had just witnessed.
What’s really impressive about MURDERCO is the production design. The sets are straight out of horror movie (or a serial killer’s basement) and the props are so realistic cannibals might be tempted to take a few of the body parts home with them. While most escape rooms offer a pretty passive experience of finding clues and solving puzzles, MURDERCO is really immersive, with multiple actors, effects and sound design that really enhance the experience. Another thing that is pretty fantastic is show’s wicked sense of humor that really reminded me of the golden years of the OC’s classic haunt, Sinister Pointe.
In the end, does MURDERCO earn its R rating? The answer to that question is an empathic “yes”! It’s adult, profane, gory, disgusting and a hell of a lot of fun. Please leave the kids at home (with a baby sitter) and have fun. If your significant other is prude, you might want to leave them at home as well, unless you want a reason to break up soon after checking out MURDERCO. One criticism our group had is that we attended with a group of 8 (the max number they allow per room) and we felt it a bit too crowded. Our recommended maximum group number would be 6.
Overall, Black Market Escape Rooms MurderCo sets a high bar for what a horror-themed escape room can be with its mix of haunted attraction, immersion and escape room puzzles. The Scarepop team enjoyed it and hope to make a return visit in the near future to experience one of the other artists’ murderous performance. Be sure to check it out!
The Black Market Escape Room is open every Thursday-Sunday
For a limited time use the code BLOODLUST for 25% off your tickets