'Unhinged' Winchester

The Mystery House's new attraction goes for spooky narrative arc over historical accuracy
HORROR SHOW: 'Unhinged' dispenses with historical pretense to focus on scares.

As the sun sinks behind the Santa Cruz Mountains, a group of people mill about outside the Winchester Mystery House. A white-haired man at the gates urges them to go no further, for they will likely never return. Based on the silver flask he's white-knuckling, it's safe to assume he's seen some things he'd prefer to forget.

A historic San Jose estate with a legacy rooted in the supernatural, the Winchester Mystery House is a popular destination for those seeking close encounters with the astral plane. With the fall season upon us and October lurking right around the corner, the mansion has once again opened its doors to guests seeking an evening of paranormal activity.

In previous years, Winchester has offered spooky candlelit tours, replete with the same notable details regarding the house's architecture and antiquity. This year, however, in an attempt to reimagine the way patrons experience the mansion, Unhinged dispels with history and spins a yarn separate from the mansion's capricious construction—taking the lore of the legendary estate and, much like Sarah did with her home, building upon it. The result is a menacing and purely fictional storyline.

Small groups are led into the looming labyrinth. Traversing the puzzle of a house, guests enter rooms that have been closed to the public for close to a century. The authors of Unhinged play with this novelty, using it to ratchet up the tension, while performers act out sinister spectacles.

Guests will clamber up and down steep stairs like those on a submarine, happen across rooms with windows for walls and squeeze through strange passageways leading to different parts of the famed Mystery House, all while interacting with the fiendish spirits who have come to call Winchester their home.

Unhinged is a PG-13 event, so it's best to leave the little ones at home. In addition to the new narrative-driven adventure, visitors are invited to indulge in other activities on the grounds, such as ax-throwing, a scavenger hunt and Christine McConnell's glorious gingerbread rendition of the Winchester House. A phenomenal light show is also projected onto manor itself.

Thru Nov. 2, $44+
Winchester Mystery House, San Jose

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