Open to the public through the entire month of October is the Human Roast House, a terrifying interactive haunted house created in the spirit of this year’s Halloween season, conveniently located in Downtown Riverside.
The Human Roast House is based on fictional character Austin Reed Trebbe, an evil cannibal who traps innocent victims in his house, tortures them and ultimately devours them. Austin comes from the imagination of 18-year-old Joshua Roa St. Pierre, who just graduated from North High School and is now the Creative Director of the haunted house—overseeing everything from the design, layout, theme, building, staffing and even acting himself in the house. It took months of planning and over a month to build from the ground up.
The Riverside Arts Council approached Joshua two years ago after discovering that he was hosting the Roast House at his own home each Halloween, offering to produce and fund the entire project as an annual attraction. This is the Roast House’s second annual presentation and it has been doing well, as seen by the jittery line at the entrance and the physically shaken individuals exiting.
“As you progress, it gets weirder and gorier,” says Joshua. “I wanted the house to tie into the mind. For example, the clowns represent [Trebbe’s] delusions, telling him to do bad things.”
The house, which is actually an open-roofed maze, appears small from the outside. But once inside, one quickly realizes that it isn’t so small after all. It takes seven to 10 minutes to walk through, but it feels like an eternity. What sets it apart and actually makes it even scarier than the bigger budget walk-throughs like the ones at Universal Studio’s Halloween Horror Nights is that the hallways in the Roast House are long and spacious, rendering the victim extremely exposed and vulnerable. Not to mention that there won’t be 30 people ahead and 30 people behind providing a safety cushion—the house demands that individual groups or couples walk through one at a time. You never have the opportunity to anticipate what comes next because there are no people in front of you to scream first.
The actors in the Roast House, who are are all volunteers, are extremely invested and talented at what they do. In the beginning you are greeted by a little girl who asks for your name and if you want to play with her. The girl is terrifying; her ghoulish makeup and bleeding throat will make any victim want to succumb to her demands. Throughout the house, as you come across some of Austin’s other “victims” in cages, they will scream out your name and beg you not to go any further, that Austin is waiting for you, and that you are getting closer. Also, the personal aspect of the character has a terrifying humanizing effect; you see his bedroom, his dining room, his furniture, and start to try and piece things together. In contrast, at a place like Universal Studios, the mazes are based on TV shows and other mediums in American popular culture, creating a sense of distance and anonymity.
The Human Roast House is complete with all the works: strobe lights, fog, clowns, hanging intestines that you have to brush past, dismembered mannequins, amputated heads, plenty of blood, eerie music and so much more. Expect gruesome looking actors to constantly corner, chase, harass, throw things, and push and pull you through Austin’s home.
The Human Roast House is a wonderful opportunity to have an intense, adrenaline-filled and entertaining night with friends, without spending a fortune or driving to another city. Tickets sell for $10 each at the door or online, and proceeds go towards the Riverside Arts Council, a non-profit organization benefiting the arts and scholarships in our local community. The house is open Thursday through Sunday nights starting at 7p.m. and ending at either 10p.m. or 11p.m., with the exception of rainy nights. Just a personal warning: you may end up in tears.