Sound in Haunted Houses

October 15, 2014 - Haunted House
Sound is the most important part of the haunted house. The human body reacts remarkably faster to audio shock than visual shock. Consider a shockingly loud noise. The body will often move involuntarily, sending some running, some jumping, and others cowering upon hearing a loud audio shock. Visual shocks are simply not as visceral. Consider an instance in which something moves very rapidly, but soundlessly through the visual field. The body will likely not involuntarily move at all.
There are several different kinds of sounds in a haunted house. There are the sounds actors make when scaring patrons, there is music, and there are sound effects. Each is vital to the show. Does a haunted house need music? No. But there definitely needs to be some kind of backdrop. Pure silence will simply not do, except in very carefully controlled situations. The music controls the mood. A suspenseful droning noise, for instance, will establish a tense mood, often without even being noticed.
Actor noises should involve as little recognizable speech as possible. We fear what we do not understand, and a person talking to us is easily recognizable. It reminds the patron of the fact that the actors are people just like them, and do not intend to harm them. Grunts, grumbles, roars, foaming mouth, ravenous screaming, etc. are all great.
Sound effects should be used to establish a scene. For instance. If a customer is walking through a factory scene, they should probably hear some factory noises. If they are walking through an amusement park, they should hear roller coaster tracks, or some bells ringing.
Bathrooms can be made very realistic with a recording of a shower and a fog machine. Customers will think there is a steamy shower running. Same goes for a toilet flushing, or a sink running. Sound effects establish a scene. Music establishes a mood. Actors scare people.