REVIEW: The Asylum on Pine Knoll Drive

Who says there’s no such thing as good news on TV?  Last week I received a delightful surprise during a local morning show, as the broadcast featured a brand-new haunted attraction in the area.  Better yet, it is in Easley only a short drive away. And better still, the creator/owner is a high school sophomore!

The Asylum on Pine Knoll Drive is the newest addition to the world of haunts in the Upstate.  We are very fortunate to have so many professional and pro-caliber haunted attractions in the Greenville/Spartanburg/Anderson area.  There are so many that I have to make a schedule in order to coordinate my attendance.  I want to hit all my favorites plus several new ones each year, and when I saw the feature on Asylum, I moved some things around in order to accommodate a visit.

I have designed and acted in haunts since I was a teenager, first in Virginia and then in Los Angeles at the world-famous Spooky House, so I was really interested in what the Asylum’s 15-year-old creator had in store, especially given South Carolina’s reputation for quality scare houses.  Let me tell you, Luke Willis has done far beyond anything I did when I was a teen!

First, the nuts and bolts: The sprawling haunt is constructed on the property of the Willis home, but there are banners, signs, and sentries directing you to the ample parking area.  Several creatures and clowns, notably Bubbles the Clown, populate the area around the ticket booth, which also has merchandise, snacks and beverages. Worth mentioning is that they accept credit/debit cards as well as cash.  The Wifey and I arrived early so there wasn’t much of a line. We were ushered to the gate by an actor explaining the rules while walking backwards – no small feat.

The haunt itself is well laid out with a minimum of confusion regarding navigation, and it maximizes the space.  There are a couple of genuinely spooky moments, some successfully creepy actors, and an effective (and fun) final room – I have to admit that I experienced a brief moment of panic before finding the exit. That said, The Asylum suffers from the same obstacles that plague most first year haunts – understaffing and budget.  There isn’t much in the way of art direction – the sets are sparse and the best one sadly didn’t pay off.  They would also benefit from some audio support.  However, I was surprised by the quality of technology that is utilized, particularly the lasers, and hopefully the attraction will be successful enough to return next season and grow!

Bottom line is:  Luke Willis is doing everything right with The Asylum on Pine Knoll Drive.  Do realize though, that it is a yard haunt.  An elaborate, well-organized yard haunt with paid actors, but a yard haunt nonetheless.

But don’t get me wrong – I LOVE yard haunts.  They’re glorious!  The best haunted attraction in Los Angeles is a yard haunt.  The second best is also a yard haunt.  Yeah, the third best as well – and all three share the landscape with mega-corporate pro attractions Halloween Horror Nights at Universal Studios, The LA Haunted Hayride, and the Queen Mary’s Dark Harbor.  I love them more than pro haunts, just because of the punk rock, entrepreneurial passion with which they’re created and run!

If you enjoy haunted attractions, The Asylum is worth supporting for this reason alone – and I look forward to visiting it again next season!

The Asylum On Pine Knoll Dr is located at 110 Pine Knoll Drive in Easley, SC (not Greenville) and is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 7:30pm until 11:30pm.

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