We are trapped inside a locked workshop. Surrounding us, there are animal skins, torturous tools, and blood on the walls. We are not in a good spot. We have to search for clues in order to escape from Dwight, a grief-stricken rage-filled backwoods simpleton. This is his cabin. So began our first visit to The Room in North Hollywood, a fairly new experience on the escape room map of Los Angeles.
The Room’s first offering is called “The Cabin.” This escape room puts your group inside the cabin of Dwight Carpenter. Your objective is to escape his cabin based on clues that he left when he was 15. You see, Dwight’s father’s mind was getting the best of him and Dwight saw him as a threat and felt he may fall prey to him any second. Now that Dwight’s father is gone and Dwight is grown up, those clues still remain and it’s up to us to find them in order to escape.
This is such a fun escape room!
Russell: First and foremost, for me, the theme of this room is highly appealing. It’s actually hard for me to believe that there aren’t more escape rooms delving into this area of horror. A cabin in the woods? The idea of an isolated location such as that begs to be made into an escape room! The Room has done a very nice job in evoking such a woodsy mood. This is an escape room which is at times surprisingly dark (I mean, literally!) and achieves a level of production design that is both simple and very effective.
Mike: I agree! Cabins in woods are a staple of horror. The design of this room was fantastic. You really did feel like you were in a cabin. It had everything a creepy cabin should have…animal hides, skulls, blood smears, a guy with a shotgun…you know, the usual.
Russell: The moment we entered The Cabin, I think everyone in our group felt we were in for a treat. The initial visual of the workshop with its tools and other ominous objects hanging from the walls definitely got us in the right mood! The opening area is quite fun… and the good time only increases from there.
Mike: Once the door closes behind you and all that natural light is gone, you realize just how screwed you are. That feeling doesn’t happen in a lot of escape rooms, but it happens in this one. It’s one of the aspects that helps this room’s theme. The door closes, you turn around, and you then realize the situation you’re in…and it isn’t good.
Russell: That feeling Mike mentions, I believe, comes from the smart decision to have the group begin in a small space which you must then maneuver your way out of, it’s a simple touch but helps set an immediate feeling of actually being trapped. Also, something which appeals to me personally, in any escape room, is the ability to keep discovering new things that expand the environment and progress the story as you solve the required puzzles. This is one of the strongest aspects of this room. Puzzles and clues unfold in a manner that continually reveal more information about the story. This also makes it easier to believe that these challenges were created from the mind of a scared teenager.
Mike: You mentioned the puzzles were made by a 15 year old scared teenager, but we should point out that the puzzles are not easy. For a 15 year old, he’s pretty clever!
Russell: The puzzles made use of numerous different props and ranged from quite clever to actually devious. The puzzles are integrated very well into the environment. All the props you believe belong in that cabin. Yes, the clues lead you to traditional escape room moments of finding a key or learning how to unlock a lock, but the effort to derive the answers from things inherent to the environment added much to the experience. As we solved more and more puzzles, we became more immersed in the world Dwight inhabited.
Extremely appealing is the fact that the puzzles actually are based in character and plot. Specifically, several clues depend directly on figuring out how they relate to the character of Dwight and his family. Everything you need is within the room, but if you aren’t paying attention you may miss the key information necessary to get out.
Mike: I love that this room had a variety of ways to unlock things. You have everything from the standard key lock to an electronically controlled lock. This room is only about a month old, so they are tweaking and adding more and more puzzles. The day we did it, we were told that 3 new puzzles had been added, and those 3 make so much sense to the story and help you learn more about Dwight’s history.
Russell: Let’s talk about this Dwight guy. Moody is an understatement. You definitely know you’re invading someone’s territory, after all this is his home that we entered and we are trespassing. He’s had captives before, that’s obvious, but he’s willing to give you a fighting chance. If you’re smart and respectful, he will find subtle ways of imparting information. I really don’t want to see his angry side.
Mike: Dwight definitely helped make the room. When you first encounter him, you’re really unsure of what to do or how to approach him. One of my favorite things that happened was when he was getting frustrated at Russell overthinking something. He walked passed our group and in his best Southern drawl says “Goddamn Russell, always overthinking everythang.” It was such an amazing, perfect, and impromptu moment that added so much to our time with him.
Russell: Ha! Thanks for bringing that up, Mike. Geez. Personally, I love the fact that there was a character inside this room. It added a great deal to the experience and several times increased the tension level. At one point, there was an actual jump scare that caused a few members of our group to scream. Well done, Dwight! Personally, I would have enjoyed it if Dwight were even more aggressive toward the group than he was… but I realize that’s my “haunt fan” brain kicking in a bit. (Still, I encourage The Room to consider developing Dwight into a more hostile presence.)
Mike: I think adding aggression would be another way to make this room fresh. When you trespass in a cabin and are found, you expect hostility. That could be a fun twist for this room in the future.
Russell: Our visit was not without a few glitches. After escaping, we later learned our group did not receive a visual clue that was supposed to be made available to us. This lack of a clue did throw two members of our group into a confusing search pattern, a third member of our group was able to figure out the step without the clue and we only lost a couple of minutes off the clock. A small hiccup, for sure… but only a minor negative aspect to our visit.
Mike: Who was thrown off and who found the clue 😉 Haha! I mentioned previously, this room is only a month old. There will be growing pains and unfortunately, we were caught in one. Did it take away from the experience? Not at all. It sounds like they’re still figuring out the final version of what this room will be. It’s about 95% there. From speaking with the creative team, it sounds like they do want to tweak a couple things and possibly add another puzzle or two.
Russell: One set of riddles was apparently a relatively recent addition and our group thoroughly enjoyed solving them! The Room is a family affair being headed up by the enthusiastic Susan, who helped make our visit a fun one, and her son, who is a huge horror/haunt fan. (Dwight was performed by the effectively sinister Benjamin Marsh.) Although the intention is to continue to develop and tweak The Cabin, this room is already a very fun experience.
Mike: The good thing about this room is even if you’re not into being scared or into horror, you can do this room. For horror nerds, they’ll instantly understand why it’s a “horror” room, but for the casual escape room person who may not be into horror, I feel like this room would be seen as more “creepy” than anything else. They do a great job at straddling that line.
Russell: Yes, I agree, I do not think anyone should shy away from this room for fear of being scared. It’s horror themed but not too intense in execution. Overall, I feel this room is a good experience for almost any escape room enthusiast. It is not horrifically difficult (see what I did there?!?!) but there are definitely several brain-twisting moments as you move through The Cabin. It is horror-themed, which will not appeal to everyone but, for me, is a main draw for this experience.
Mike: Susan was a great host and you can see the enthusiasm she has for her company. Her space allows room for a total of 4 rooms! They are working on a second room currently that will have a spaceship theme and will hopefully be opening in a couple months.
Also, here is the back story of The Cabin, which can be found on their website.
Dwight Carpenter was born the son of Ted Carpenter, a backwoods simpleton, and Wendy Loomis on a quiet morning in 1968. Wendy had the unfortunate displeasure of crossing paths with Ted while she was a counselor at the nearby summer camp. All the counselors were slaughtered and consumed by Ted, except Wendy. Ted kept her caged up in his workshop in the back of his secluded cabin. Sometime after Dwight’s birth, Wendy found a way out of the cabin and never looked back, even for Dwight. For she knew that if anyone ever found Dwight, she would become a social outcast. As the years passed, Dwight started to have more questions about his mother and her whereabouts. Ted always told his son that his mother left them to go live a life of sin in the city.
Every night before they could devour their day’s hunt at the table, Ted always ranted about how their victims were divinely brought to them. Their appearance was God telling Ted it was their time to go. For the whole world was rotten, but that of Dwight and Ted. When Dwight was fifteen, he saw his father as a threat and knew he could fall prey to him any second. He loved his father dearly but was worried that his aging mind was getting the best of him. To be safe, Dwight scattered clues throughout the cabin that only he knew the solution to. This fear of his disappeared on one fateful evening in 1985 when a group of hunters accidentally shot and killed Ted, mistaking him for a deer. Fueled by grief and rage, Dwight finally saw the world as his father did. Those hunters became the first of Dwight Carpenter’s many victims. Will you join them?