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Seattle's Haunted Soiree is a thrilling adult trick-or-treat experience

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Photo courtesy of Meyer2Meyer
Photo courtesy of Meyer2Meyer

There's no better interactive Halloween event in Seattle than Haunted Soiree: A Macabre Cocktail Party. The immersive theatrical production is charming, campy, and creepy as hell.

Before arriving, attendees should know that the venue is actually haunted. The Daughters of the American Revolution Chapter House on Capitol Hill is said to be occupied by the ghost of an unknown woman. Visitors have reported hearing the sounds of disembodied voices and music.

It's not hard to believe the 200-year-old mansion is haunted — it's now full of ghosts in eerie makeup.

That's because this year's story is "The Volkov Possession," according to which the mansion was once the location of a psychiatric facility. Each performer represents a different patient who was once plagued by sightings of creatures while living there — until one night, when all the patients and staff mysteriously died. Russian ghosts lead participants to exhibits where they can learn more about the story.

For scaredy-cats (like myself), a selection of five different craft cocktails can provide some courage. Small bars are to be found on the top two floors of the mansion, each providing a unique fall-themed drink. Upon arriving, guests get a "tarot card," which bartenders will punch throughout the night as drinks are ordered. Gold and silver tickets provide five drinks, while a bronze ticket includes four.

Attendees are provided with files and then ushered into the rooms of the patients to search for clues about what led to their demise. (I'd suggest beginning the experience before starting in on the drink card, if you want to fully understand the files.) Shrieks abound as creatures pop out from hiding places in each room.

The most terrifying part of the experience is that couples are split up and sent on their way alone. I admit I only made it through one room before I nearly peed myself.

Guests also get a clue to help them figure out what happened at the Volkov Practice. The hint may lead participants to the basement, where they can engage in interactive storytelling, with actors explaining the legend behind the creatures from the upstairs rooms. Attendees will also learn more about the nefarious intentions of Dr. Volkov, and may even get a chance to meet him in person as he walks around during the soiree.

Photo courtesy of Meyer2Meyer  

Patrons are encouraged to explore the building's three levels as part of the interactive experience; each has a different set of entertainment. The main floor includes the most tame. One room has demons singing upbeat pop songs. Another has one of the story's characters performing magic tricks; this room also features a stunning pole dance routine.

Characters are just as free-roaming as the guests. They often strike up a conversation about the mystery at hand. The experience feels akin to participating in a real-life video game.

Starting at the top is the best way to figure out what is happening in the mansion, although it is the creepiest floor. Even just lingering there will send chills down the spine. Every ten minutes, dancers perform a ritual on the front stage. The first involves the sacrifice of a bear. While beautiful and reminiscent of a dance Sia might choreograph, it is horrifying.

Those who stick around up there long enough may just be able to catch the second ritual, which was the most disturbing thing I have ever witnessed (and I live in Capitol Hill). The liturgy — because allusions to Christianity make everything feel a bit freakier — involves the spirits of the deceased donning baby masks, then graphically mutilating and murdering one of the story's characters. This scene is not for the faint of heart.

Both rituals are very effective in creeping one out. Just hearing the ceremonial music echo through the streets of Capitol Hill that night was enough to bring back images of the horrifying sight.

Despite the frightening tricks, this Halloween experience is the perfect treat for any spook enthusiast. The experience is scary without becoming hacky, and the actors are excellent improvisers, willing to put up with the horrible jokes of nervous participants. A golden ticket even allows guests to participate in "adult trick-or-treating," which was genuinely so much fun.

Come for the craft cocktails and stay to figure out what the hell happened to Dr. Volkov (and then please explain it to me).

Haunted Soiree is running until October 31. Tickets range from $70 to $98 and must be purchased beforehand at https://www.hauntedsoiree.com/seattle