JOE'S FRIGHT FARM
On a lazy agricultural road in the Rochester, college-town exurb of Brockport is a haunted trail of maximum compactness and complexity all at once. This year is Joe and Maria's 6th year of doing the trail and they definitely have a strong future as long as they continue to work their magic at such a caliber. They stuff a great trail and the best Midway or Lobby in the market into an area that might only be three quarters of a square mile at most.
The Midway is so well developed. They have a movie screen, concessions, merchandise, farm market, photo ops, port-o-potties, a port-o-sink, mystics, ample seating, roaming actors, a non-haunted hayride and a creepy, secluded feeling to cap it off. The entire plot of land is shaded by four magnificent Weeping Willows. On the night we went, there happened to be a contingent of RIP Auto Club with six hearses and the actors and dogs that go with them. It was amazing. My sister's favorite part was the Chihuahua she met, Pickles. If there weren't other haunts to visit, this place could have taken another hour of our time.
In my chat with the owners, they revealed that the actor turnover rate has been very low. As in nearly all have been with them for the full six years. The actors' experience after being in this same environment for six years is highly evident in their knowledge of how to use the corn and constructions for scares. Take the initial actor for instance. Dressed like a solidly nightmarish alien with the wrinkly, eyeless face to boot, this individual has a voice changer to finish the character in epic fashion. The actor has quick access to the first of a number of loud surprises and hit the conclusion by running hard into the wall right past my sister. Through the whole cornfield, I never heard wimpy cliches or character breaks. The only exception was the front door attendant with the snappy jack o'lantern suit. His hollers of “Fresh Meat!” actually play into his character and are wholly utilitarian. The last actor with his loud surprise has a self modified mask that looks anything but generic.
Eye Candy/Visuals - 8
Joe's Fright Farm has a very rustic look borne of the pallets and other miscellaneous scrap wood the “indoor” parts are made of. The facade is a cool wood frame draped with jute and burlap. They also have some really cool altar and totem pole looking set pieces which have very focused and unnerving lighting schemes. The corn stalks are easily ten feet tall and are the most impressive of the four corn mazes we have been to so far. Most of the masks and costumes are pretty unique and developed by the actors themselves on occasion.
For a walkthrough of a little less than 10 minutes, this haunt packs a punch around every corner. To start, the front door attendant hands your group a giant bra with which you are supposed to keep track of each other. Through the “indoor” part to the cornfield there is a surprisingly compact and eventful little haunted house with two solid actors and a shifty, shadowy atmosphere developed by the slat walls and a swinging light. Into the cornfield and accompanying moonlight, you're welcomed by surprises as diverse as a raven crowing in the fields and a grand occult scene with a skeleton totem pole in the center. The path is very triangular rather than rectangular and this even plays out in the pallets that are set in the course of the cornfield.
This place has an extraordinarily optimized, compact footprint which considering the caliber of the entire operation including the Midway is a masterclass in creativity. They do everything themselves and don't have outside artists make stuff for them. Even the fact that the actors are in on creating their own characters sets them apart.