Hollywood and Vine is one of the most famous intersections in the world. It's a place packed with crazy Los Angeles characters, but even Hollywood and Vine doesn't feel ready for Pennywise. From now until September 10, the corner sports a terrifying addition: The Neibolt Street house from It.
Pennywise is haunting Hollywood through September. All images: io9
Based on the popular novel by Stephen King, a new adaptation of It opens on September 7. It's about a group of young kids from Derry, Maine who begin to uncover a horrible evil that lives in their town. An evil that can take many forms, but is most famously a clown named Pennywise. In the book, an early encounter with It is at an old, abandoned house on Neibolt Street. Later, the kids visit the super creepy house and discover it's kind of a home base for the creature.
So, to help promote the movie, Warner Bros. has completely taken over a lot on the corner of Hollywood and Vine in Los Angeles and made a life-sized replica of the house, complete with actors and props. Small groups walk through the house together, which is filled with gross, creepy details. I took the tour this past weekend and even as we approached it, there was an almost supernatural feeling.
Here's the house from across the street.
As we got closer, we could even see the street sign:
It really does take over the area and is packed with details:
Once my group got to the front of the house, we were greeted by Georgie, one of the crucial characters in It, complete with yellow raincoat and red balloon. In fact, there are Georgies all over the outside of the house, which is unsettling on its own. As we walked in, Georgie explained what's going to happen and we immediately began to hear very uncomfortable, very loud cackling from all around. We hadn't even seen anything yet, and it was already kind of scary.
Up a spiral staircase we went, down a hallway and into the first room. Now, I'm not going to spoil every single thing, but I will post a few photos to give you an idea. The most interesting thing about all the rooms along the 20-minute-or-so tour is that, in most cases, the scares don't come to you. You discover the scares yourself. We were encouraged to walk around and explore each room, looking at all the creepy old toys, games, and pieces of paper until someone eventually triggered a scare or two in the room. That could be an actor jumping out from a corner, a mechanical contraption, or a video monitor. You just never know.
For example, right off the bat, the first room is filled with clowns:
Really creepy clowns.
The clowns are all stationary, so we walked around with a very strong sense of foreboding. And yes, the clown posse includes Pennywise from the It mini-series, which we saw in the most recent trailer.
Let's just say one of the clowns stopped being stationary, many screams were had, and we walked into the next room. Immediately, you sense this is a kind of a media room with all kinds of cool, interesting things laying about, such these old school horror magazines and comics (nice DC tie in, Warner Bros.).
Or this map of the Derry sewers, which are also very important to the story.
This was probably my favourite room in the place because there's so much to look at. For example, I walked up to a TV that had some ominous static playing on it. But as I approached, a video came on. I caught this one frame.
Yeaaaaah. But that's not all. Much like in the film's trailer, a slide projection then clicks on. It starts super nice. Family holiday photos and stuff. Everyone stood around waiting for something bad to happen, and it did.
Oh, but that's not it. The side wall then gets its own, full-on projected video. The new, movie Pennywise has officially began to take over.
The third room we walked into is a nursery... except all the toys are dusted over and the crib is broken on the floor. Oh, and you can't miss the these three doors.
Georgie told us not to open the doors until he said, so we didn't. I would have rather jumped out a window. Instead, we walk around the room and realised the whole room is covered in decor like this.
So that's pretty messed up. Something else happens too, which I will admit got me to jump. And once that was over, Georgie chose someone to open the first door. I don't want to spoil them all but I will tease by saying this is behind the one labelled "Not Scary at All":
At this point, the imagery seemed to get even more gruesome and we knew that were were building up to the big finale. But how could something top this?
Or the downright disturbing look of this?
Then, finally, we reached It's trademark sewers below Neibolt Street. There are two, both dark. Then the one on the right starts to blink and smoke and out comes Pennywise.
Those photos don't really do Pennywise justice. He moves, talks, and the lighting really makes for a great effect. There's one more little thing and out the door we went, back to the streets of Hollywood.
Aesthetically, the Neibolt House is astonishing. Crowds lined the fences around the corner to take photos of the exterior. And once you enter the lot, the attention to detail both outside and in is incredible. You almost believe this is a real house that just happens to exist in the area.
As for an authentic, scary experience, it's a bit more mixed. As evidenced above, there are plenty of unsettling images and a jump scares and almost all of it is interesting and fun to look at. But, depending on your level of courage, nothing is too over-the-top. Kids who frequent Halloween haunts like this probably won't get the same thing out of it as someone who is scared of clowns or a fan of King's work. But the production value throughout is really impressive and, considering the experience is free, it's certainly more than worth checking out.
Find out more information about Neibolt House at this link. It opens September 7.