Carnevil: Panic Room Harlow
Rating: ★★★★★
Venue: Panic Room Harlow
Cast: Alfi Howard 

Let me tell you the tale of the Grimaldi Brothers, one kind and one kinda evil. Percevil made a deal with the devil for the Carnival to run forever but all deals come at a cost…that cost was his brother. One of the acts Madame Mystica has reached out to you to try and free the carnival and its acts. Can you set them free and escape the haunted carnival? Or will you become one of the attractions forever…

As a massive fan of both horror and escape rooms, this room seemed the perfect combination for me. Having done several other rooms at Panic Room Harlow, I was excited to find out how this would fare in comparison to their others. 

Once checked in, we had a simple health and safety briefing from our games master, Alfi, before venturing into the labyrinth of the many escape rooms in the building. Once we arrived at our destination, we were given a backstory and the mission at hand. Alfi was dressed in a suitably carnival outfit as he delivered our task. The aim of the room is to retrieve a severed hand and a ring, to lift the curse that Percevil has caused to be cast on the carnival.  

As the "sacrificial lamb" of the group, I entered the eerily lit room first on my own. When waiting in the dark, Alfi clearly asked the fellow participants my deepest fear and opened the door declaring, "release the pigeons", whereby I jumped out of my skin before it had even begun.

Once you're shut in the room, you instantly take in your surroundings and the theming of this room is excellent. If you've been to a carnival before, you'll likely know what to expect. Fairground games such as Hook-a-Duck were part of the challenge which made for a refreshing change in an escape room. The mechanical clowns, low lighting and creepy music really added to the vibes of a haunted carnival.

However, the fun and games of the carnival didn't last too long. We were soon asked to enter the tent, whereby my sister tried to enter a closed door and Alfi came over the intercom to say, "tents don't have doorknobs", which needless to say we found hilarious. Once you enter the tent, it's more puzzle-based from then on, but by this point we were heavily invested.

The lack of timer made the experience feel more stressful, which for a horror escape room was perfect. In terms of clues, we were told we had to stand in a circle holding hands, while dancing, if we needed any help. Now, I think Alfi may have played us there...but we did do it anyway. 

For me, an escape room is only as good as its games master and Alfi is undoubtedly the best I've ever had. He turned Carnevil from an escape room into an experience for us, and I can't praise him highly enough. He was enthusiastic, quick-witted and somehow managed to make us feel wholly comfortable...all while scaring the hell out of us

Carnevil is a fast-paced room that requires a range of skills. It's easy to engage and become lost in the story. There are a few jump scares and flashing lights, but nothing too terrifying. A large part of enjoyment for this room came from Alfi, so we can't thank him enough. I've done quite a few escape rooms and this has absolutely been my favourite. Oh and most importantly, we succeeded - with 90 seconds to spare!

You can book tickets to Carnevil at the Panic Room Harlow, here.

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