I Like Scary Movies interactive horror exhibit is art for the Instagram era

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"Look dead. No, more dead." Ars writer in a horror playground inspired by 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King's <em>It</em>.”><figcaption class=
Enlarge / “Look dead. No, more dead.” Ars writer in a horror playground inspired by 2017 film adaptation of Stephen King's It.


Horror-movie fans are known for their love of immersive “haunts:” special exhibits of events that pay tribute to their favorite films while letting the fans in on a bit of the scary action. That's the thinking behind I Like Scary Movies, a pop-up interactive art installation that just opened in Los Angeles.

I Like Scary Movies is the brainchild of “experiential” artist Maximillian Castillo (who goes by Maximillian), well-known for his interactive immersive creations, like a Snakes on Plane installation or a Pirates of the Caribbean walk-through for San Diego Comic-Con. He's also a horror-movie buff, and the current exhibit—housed in the historic art deco building The Desmond, along Los Angeles' Miracle Mile—draws inspiration from five films in particular: The Shining, It, A Nightmare on Elm Street, Beetlejuice, and The Lost Boys.

“I wanted to do something that was more like an interactive art installation—something that isn't your standard Halloween scare maze, which I love, but I feel like we can celebrate and interpret these movies over and over again,” Castillo said in an interview. “Other than going through a walk-through maze once a year during Halloween, there's really no other way to really enjoy these movies and dive deeper into the content of these films and these worlds.”

At the entrance of I Like Scary Movies, visitors find themselves in The Shining‘s “redrum” hedges, moving to subsequent rooms from there. Also from The Shining: Castillo's interpretation of the famous scene in which a torrent of blood pours out of The Overlook's elevator—the bloodstream is made from strands of red movie tickets—and a chance to sink into the hotel's signature carpeting after posing on a replica of Danny's tricycle. Freddy Krueger's “throne” is here, plus several set pieces from Beetlejuice: you can stick your feet in a shark's mouth while lounging on a chair, for instance, like the sea diver ghost in the film.

The most compelling is the installation for It. Castillo created a creepy Pennywise teepee out of children's toys and other similar found objects, alongside several models of the killer clown's nightmare-inducing toothy maw that are large enough for visitors to stick their head inside. But it's the hanging strings of paper boats (reminiscent of little Georgie, whose disappearance sets off the events in It) that set this feature apart. The piece is truly artistic, and it creates a winding path leading to the sewer lair, all while lighting creates caustic patterns on the floor to mimic the flow of water.

Each installation provides ample opportunity for visitors to snap pictures of themselves and their friends in their favorite horror scenarios: posing in a coffin in Pennywise's underground sewer lair, perhaps, or hanging from the Santa Clara train tracks from The Lost Boys. Scary Movies is interactive art ready-made for the Instagram era, and it makes for a fun afternoon diversion. But the experience won't come cheap: tickets are $39 each.

I Like Scary Movies should remain at The Desmond through June 16, before Castillo (hopefully) takes his scare-fest on the road.

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