Dead Hill

28 April 2017, Napier prison

The Napier Prison “trail of horror” as I had dubbed it in my calendar takes place every month in the 1860s complex that once housed Hawke’s Bay’s most wanted and most unhinged. The location itself being relatively unsettling, this night promised, in my mind, a plethora of murderous tales, the creeping shadows of past inhabitants and a generous splatter of fake blood. Unfortunately,  I found the evening would only fully deliver on the fake blood front, of which there was almost excessive use.

As I approached the ominous entrance and knocked accordingly, I found myself quaking with unbridled fear. Unhelpfully, I was greeted by a large huntsman spider who just so happened to be in the right place at the right time and, it transpired, would prove rather more terrifying than the tour that ensued.

As an R16 event, at $25 a head, the level of climbing-the-walls-to-escape terror that patrons may have expected was not quite breached, instead there was actually an element of hilarity to the whole thing. A reaction quite foreign to the prison I’m sure.

As for the actors themselves, whether it be costume and makeup or character portrayal there was a distinct sense of sameness that become more and more predictable as the night wore on. Some of the red-spattered, hospital gown wearing loose units also, upon sensing that I was not very convinced, dropped character altogether and took the time to comment on my badges or even introduce themselves which was most endearing but perhaps a little out of context.

However, despite these short-comings it was certainly an interesting evening and the historical prison facts along the way definitely added some level of intrigue. Perhaps it was just my typical teenage cynicism that somewhat limited my receptiveness to the tour.

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