What's Your Angle?

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This is a relatively short entry that may drive aeronautical engineers bonkers. I'm going to use "angle of attack" all wrong.

As a scare actor, it is important to have a plan to "attack" and a plan to "escape". Just to irritate the engineers, I'm going to call them the Angle of Attack and the Angle of Escape. I want to use these terms partly because if you are going to ambush a patron to get a startle scare, you have to be concealed. One effective way to do that is to hide at such an angle that you can see them before they see you.

For a drop panel, the angle of attack and escape is the same. You watch through the peephole until your prey is in sight, then BAM! Drop the panel and lunge. To escape, simply retract your head and limbs and raise the panel. Maybe you are hiding around a corner. You pop out to scare them. Where to now? Do you just step back into the corner? Do you fade into a hidden recess on the other side? Once you've made your attack, where do you go?

This is something I believe needs to be considered beforehand. Ideally, the scenes and rooms will be designed for easy scares and escapes. It is pretty awkward when an actor jumps out at you and screams, then just kind of stands there, or shuffles back to the starting position. If the room was not designed with the scares in mind, the actor need to come up with at least a transition. For example, she jumps out with her knife and fork screaming "Lunch!". If the group does not all scream and get away, she might sniff them and say, "oh, spoiled", spit on the floor, and slink back to her spot. At least then there is a transition. The actor needs a way out so the patrons know it's time to move on.

This brings up the other side of that coin. Patrons have angles of attack and escape too. At least, they SHOULD have an angle of escape. Put the aforementioned drop panel in a bathroom scene with no way out, and the actor is liable to get punched in the nose! There is not enough room to scare the patrons from outside their reach, and nowhere for them to go. When fight or flight kicks in and flight is not an option for either party, well...

It's a great idea, as a haunter, to figure out how to get scares from a safe distance. Some people will always choose "fight", so let's make it inconvenient for them to do so. It's also a great idea to make sure the patrons know which way to flee. Let's make that as convenient and obvious as possible! I've been in haunted houses where I literally had to tell the actor, "I just don't know where you want me to go from here". That's no fun for either of us.
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I feel confident once you start thinking about scares from both perspectives, you'll see where weaknesses lie, and maybe you'll even develop some cool actor escapes. If you've already done that, please tell me about them!

Happy haunting!