Jonathan Gibb reviews House of Horror, a Halloween-themed charity gala raising funds for the the Elephant Family, a UK based NGO dedicated to protecting Asian elephants.

 

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As Halloween began to loom upon St Andrews, the annual House of Horror Charity Gala promised guests a night to remember. Buses left St Andrews in pitch-black conditions, adding to the mystery of the evening that the organisers had assured us we would duly receive.

 

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After the delightfully short bus journey came to an end, we were offered complimentary shots (vodka with literally a ‘dash’ of cranberry) as dangerous as the rocky and uneven entrance to Kinkell itself. A delightfully jovial man – with a chainsaw – kindly greeted us from the moment we stepped off buses with enough theatrical finesse to elicit screams from the most stone-cold guests. It was clear that from the beginning of the night that House of Horror had truly upped their game; in fact, it’s rather difficult to compare this year’s gala to the previous one, as the committee has come so unbelievably far in regards to improvising the guest experience.

 

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So was it truly spooktacular? Why yes, yes it was –  if I do say so myself. The shortage of worthwhile Halloween events in St Andrews puts the gala in a unique position, giving it so much potential to shine. However, being the only Halloween event in town definitely should not be – and is not – the gala’s sole selling point: it was genuinely quite a lot of fun. As you can see from the photography, the guests’ costumes were superb. Those daring for something unique stole the show and, overall, the fickle matter of balancing scary and sultry – a true Halloween cliché that St Andrews seemingly can’t do without – was well-executed.

 

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Front of house was done very well; House of Horror is probably the only event I’ve ever been to at Kinkell that – I can honestly state – didn’t just resemble every other event held there before it (with, or without, fairly lights and kitsch foliage). However, the numbers game did sadly dampen the spirit of the event, but this is just an unavoidable difficulty of arranging any event during deadline-heavy weeks. The relatively small size of the crowd resulted in the dance floor being scarily unpopulated at certain points,  though – in a manner speaking – you could argue that this enhanced the spooky atmosphere. DJs SAUNIT and Kalliope were on the decks and were killing it (pun intended) throughout the night. However, I really would have appreciated ‘Thriller’ being played at some point, and – as others have mentioned as well – some seating to have been made available.

 

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I particularly loved the smaller details of the night. Being greeted and served shots by the committee members who organised the evening was a lovely touch. There was always the impression that these committee members were going out of their way to make sure guests had an enjoyable evening that met all of their expectations. The ShoeCheck was an excellent idea – especially if you’re one of the many people that can’t quite navigate Kinkell without tumbling down the stairs. Free candy was as plentiful as promised and could have easily satisfied the greediest of trick-or-treaters. Efficient bar staff meant that queues were kept to an absolute minimum throughout the evening. All in all, these organisational tweaks completely eliminated the flaws of last year. If you didn’t make House of Horror this year, then I urge you to highly consider going at least once during your time in St Andrews!

 

 

Jonathan Gibb

 

All photography courtesy of Lightbox Creative St Andrews