Halloween lovers, our time is here! After months and months of sweating in the summer sun, spooky season is finally kicking off (even if the weather has not quite gotten the memo yet 👀). That's right: Halloween Horror Nights is back, baby! I was lucky enough to attend opening night at Universal Studios Hollywood, and...y'all...you're in for a real treat! And, TBH, a trick or two, too. Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed This year, Halloween Horror Nights in Hollywood has nine new, spooky haunted houses for your simultaneous enjoyment and terror, including a couple inspired by some of the biggest movies and TV shows of the year. I went through every single one and ranked them from "it's alright" to "guess I'll see you in my nightmares!" Here's how they stacked up:
WARNING: This post contains gifs with flashing lights. Please proceed with caution.
9. Holidayz in Hell What it’s about: From New Years to Christmas, this house takes anyone brave enough to enter on a journey through a bunch of horror-fied holidays. What I thought: I really like the premise of this house, but admittedly, it wasn’t really that scary. However, this seemed like the kinda house that would be cooler to take your time and walk through to enjoy all the interesting little details rather than rush through in a crowd. The sets were fun, but I feel like I didn’t really have the opportunity to appreciate them. This house definitely relied less on jump-scares than the others, but I kinda wish they’d had more? We walked through almost the whole Fourth of July part of the house without a jump scare, so instead of being spooked, I felt a bit...confused, I guess? Like I was waiting for something to be scary? If you’re short on time, I'd say this one could be a skip, personally. Scare factor: 1.5/10 Creativity: 3/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed What it’s about: This house, inspired by the 2023 film of the same name, is set in an LA apartment and follows the reunion of two sisters — Beth and Ellie — which quickly turns dark thanks to the Book of the Dead. What I thought: OK, I wanna start this off by saying I’m not personally very familiar with the Evil Dead movies or games, so take this with a grain of salt if that’s your jam. Overall, though, this house was alright. It was one of the shorter haunts in the park and had a short line. I found it to be a tad bit forgettable and basic compared to the others. There were a lot of lulls between scares, and it started to take me out of the experience and remind me that I was, in fact, just walking through a set. At one point, a bunch of us were just standing in a line in this big room with admittedly some pretty cool props, but we were there long enough that the anticipating of ~something happening~ wore off. The scares felt a little repetitive, and, while fun, were more predictable. Scare factor: 3/10 Creativity: 4/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed 7. Terror Tram…The Exterminatorz What it’s about: This backlot-tour turned haunt brings you through a bug uprising, in which these creepy crawlers — lead by Larry Larva — are flipping the script and trying to eradicate people. It also takes you on a walk into the Jordan Peele cinematic universe, through Jupiter's Claim from his most recent film, , where tons of the Tethered from Nope Us are lurking. What I thought: This was really fun! I don’t necessarily think the terror tram is all that scary, but I do have a soft spot for it every year, because I like that it’s a little different. It's a nice, cooling break from being on your feet for a bit, and the line is almost never that long. I didn’t quite get how the human-annihilating bug theme fit into Jordan Peele’s movies, but I thought they were both fun and spooky. Because there are so many more scare actors in one place when you hop off the tram, I definitely got singled out and scared more here than in some of the houses. I'm a big fan of Jordan Peele's movies, so I was stoked by the crossover of Nope and Us. What can I say, the Tethered freaked me out in person as much as they did on screen!! I’d recommend heading over the tram early, though, because it does close before the other houses do. Scare factor: 3.5/10 Creativity: 6/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed 6. Chucky: Ultimate Kill Count What it’s about: The ever-iconic killer doll, Chucky, is back, and this time, he's the one taking over the haunted house and coming for everyone — including you! — who doesn't take him seriously. The house in inspired by both his films and TV series. What I thought: This house was more funny than it was scary. Chucky is undeniably iconic, and the whole house captured his unhinged, chaotic vibe really well. There weren’t all too many jump scares, but I did get sprayed in the face with water, which — TBH — was kinda refreshing (moment of silence for my girlfriend, who was screaming and got sprayed right in the mouth). I felt like there were more mechanical-based scares here (aka giant dolls) than actual scare actors, which I feel like was cool to look at but didn't really startle me in the same way. This house is a good place to start if you’re not quite ready to jump right into the scarier ones yet. Plus, the line got realllllly long toward the end of the night, and was pretty short when I headed over in the beginning. Scare factor: 4/10 Creativity: 6/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed 5. Universal Monsters: Unmasked What it’s about: This house takes you on a journey deep into the Catacombs of Paris, where you can expect to encounter several iconic Universal Monsters, such as The Invisible Man, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, The Phantom of the Opera, and The Hunchback of Notre Dame. What I thought: This house was not what I expected — in a good way! I loved the Catacombs theme (a personal favorite), and they really leaned into it. Out of all the houses, this one felt the most cramped and claustrophobic, so if you’re not a fan of small spaces or tight corners, I’d definitely keep that in mind. There were these thin, web-like things hanging down from the doorways that brush over you when you walk by, and they a) momentarily had me nervous there was a spider on me and b) distracted me enough while I was walking that I got spooked by some of the jump scares I otherwise might’ve seen coming. Pair that with the surprise of getting sprayed in the face with water and it getting really dark between scares…and you’ve got yourself a good, spooky time. All in all, I’d consider this pretty medium-scary — it didn’t quite have me clutching my bag to my chest like some of the other houses, but I would definitely say it got me a realllll good a couple times. Scare factor: 6/10 Creativity: 8/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed 4. Stranger Things 4 What it’s about: Set in the most recent season of Stranger Things, the house showcases iconic moments from the Netflix original series, working its way through Hawkins and beyond as the crew takes on Vecna. What I thought: This house is so detailed and elaborate — I honestly just kinda wanted to stand in there and soak it in, because they do such a good job of immersing you in the Stranger Things universe. I was definitely most excited to go into this one because I'm a big fan of the show, but I don't exactly consider it to be scary. I had a similar experience in the house — I really loved it, but I wouldn't really say it scared me. It did make me more...anxious?? They did a great job of putting the characters and plot front-and-center, and — because I know what happens — I was absolutely stressed for them. Cue me being excited to see Max, then absolutely horrified for her. They really make you feel like you’re in the show (like literally — Steve Harrington finished his scene and whispered at me to ~call him~ before walking out, which felt Very Steve™️). All in all, it’s a great time and definitely a must-see in my book. Scare factor: 3/10 Creativity: 10/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed 3. Monstruos: The Monsters of Latin America What it’s about: This house takes you through three bone-chilling tales from Latin American folklore. You come face to face with the bloodsucker Tlahuelpuchi, the witch with the face of an owl named La Lechuza — and El Silbón — "the whisperer" who'll rip your spine right out of your body. What I thought: This house was a bit of an underdog for me — I really didn’t expect to enjoy it as much as I did, but it was great! It went above and beyond by, honestly, creating pure sensory overload — it smells like meat...you’re walking through hanging intestines at every turn (and even whole hanging pigs, to which I screamed, “ABSOLUTELY NOT”)...lights are flashing...a bird-witch hybrid is popping out at you. It's a lot, and it was a blast! The scare actors in the house were so high energy, I loved it! The line for Monstruos was fairly short most of the night compared to others (I walked right in with an Express pass), and it’s a great time, highly recommended! Scare factor: 7/10 Creativity: 9.5/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed 2. The Exorcist: Believer What it’s about: This house is inspired by the next, soon-to-be-released Exorcist installment — The Exorcist: Believer — in which two young, missing girls are miraculously found…but not everything is as it seems. Neither girl has any memory of what happened to them, and both seem to be possessed by a dark, demonic entity. What I thought: Y’all, this one got me. Perhaps it was the fact that I knew it was going to, or that everyone in line around me seemed to have the same excited-but-also-slightly-terrified vibe, but going through this house had the same energy as seeing a horror movie in theaters opening night. It was electric. Like Stranger Things, it was super immersive — from the second I walked in, I felt like I was in that storefront, then the jungle, then the house. My shoulders were up to my neck for a good 70% of this house and the jump scares definitely got me. There was one part where we were walking through some corridors (which make you think they’re the “safe” space between jump scares to recollect your bearings), and suddenly, they switch from being plain wallpaper to being see-through, with scare actors on the other side??? Let me tell you — I screamed a scream I didn’t know I could scream. Scare factor: 8/10 Creativity: 8/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed 1. And finally, The Last of Us What it’s about: Inspired by the hit HBO show and highly acclaimed video game of the same name, this haunted house follows Joel and Ellie as they fight to survive in a post-pandemic world full of Clickers, hunters, and more. What I thought: I’ve gotta be honest — I saved this one for last because I was ever so slightly dreading it. I tried to watch the first episode of TLOU when the show was airing earlier this year, and I had to turn off the first episode part-way through because it had me so damn stressed. All that being said, it’s the perfect candidate for a Horror Nights house, and without a doubt, it delivered. The Last Of Us is, essentially, the pinnacle of what a haunted house should be. The jump scares were good and plenty, the sets immediately transported you into its world, and the suspense was there. Like Stranger Things, the house took inspiration from how beloved its characters are, and highlighted them beautifully. It was scary, it was well crafted, and it made me wanna get back in line and do it all over again. Scare factor: 10/10 Creativity: 10/10 Angelica Martinez / BuzzFeed All I can say is...that was wild! Before I let you go, here are some helpful tips and tricks I learned that you might wanna know before you go: If you want to see every house, you We got into the park around 7 p.m. and finished the final haunted house just after midnight. In that time we were able to go through every house, every show, and take a couple quick food and drink breaks. We did, however, have express passes, and that's pretty much the only way we were able to do all that before the park closed. If hitting every house is on your Horror Nights bucket list, I'd highly recommend upgrading. We didn't wait more than, like, 20 minutes in a line the whole night, and GA lines ranged from 30 minutes to 180 minutes most of the time. need express passes: If you have GA tickets, my go-to trick is going to the smaller, less popular houses first. When we got in, the lines for Stranger Things, The Last of Us, and The Exorcist were several hours long. I made the mistake of making a beeline to the most popular house last year, and waiting in that massive line was draininggggg. Do yourself a favor and start at the other ones! By the end of the night, the lines to the most anticipated houses are a lot shorter, and the smaller houses end up getting hour-long lines because everyone is rushing to get them in. Save yourself some time to watch a show or grab some food! That's all, folks! Happy spooky season! Don't forget to check out these haunted houses for yourself at Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios Hollywood, running now through October 31.