Guests to Fright Path in Scott entertain international viewers as TikTok movies go viral | Leisure/Life
If you’ve been to Lafayette Parish for Halloween, you’ve probably heard of Fright Trail, the haunted attraction in Scott, where guests escape giant spiders and animatronic beasts, mad men with chainsaws, and menacing clowns through 20 acres of forest.
But what you may not know is that Fright Trail gained an enthusiastic global audience using the TikTok video sharing app and had over 100 million video views on their scary posts and the best trail reactions in just two months.
Fright Trail’s bogeyman, Rich Hemp, has been in the horror and haunted attraction business for decades.
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Hemp was born the day before Halloween and grew up watching the TV shows “Creature Feature” and “Chiller Theater” and reveled in the macabre and autumnal mood in New Jersey. As an adult, he began working in haunted attractions in the 1970s, first in his native New Jersey and then across the United States. He has designed and operated everything from haunted castles to fear mazes throughout his career.
Hemp said he was called to give something back to the genre that was a crucial joy in his life.
“I wanted to give something back and have the effect on someone that it had on me,” he said.
Hemp met his wife, author Deborah LeBlanc, while working at a haunted attraction in Texas. In 2012, the couple opened Fright Trail and turned a 20-acre property owned by LeBlanc in Scott into their own horror homebase.
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“It’s a good old-fashioned Halloween scream at night,” he said.
The donations collected from the educational trail every October go to LeBlanc’s nonprofit, Literacy Inc., which works to promote teen literacy through the donation of e-readers to high school students, scholarships and other community efforts, he said .
While Hemp’s business focus is on prospective visitors to Acadiana and the state, social media has won the horror venue global fans who have never – and probably never – physically entered the property. TikTok was the latest platform turning viewers into fans of the Scott business.
Most of the videos show visitors meandering through the venue and screaming, jumping and running as they face the costumed actors. Groups of teenagers stumble on top of each other on the run, frightened companions cover their ears as they run after their children, and “I’m not afraid” claims quickly turn into horrified screeches.
Are you struggling to see this TikTok video? Click here.
The TikTok account and fandom all around made the spooky experience even more exciting for some attendees, especially teenagers who visit knowing they might end up on the Fright Trail account, Hemp said. Many guests comment on videos of themselves, their friends, neighbors, and family members.
“Who doesn’t like to be special? Who doesn’t want to be recognized? ”Said Hemp.
“These people, who may come from a small town, are suddenly thrown onto a world stage. A world stage in the truest sense of the word. Those people may never have left Crowley and the people in Tokyo are watching them and Paris, London and Perth, Australia, “said Hemp.
The popularity is not exaggerated.
Are you struggling to see this TikTok video? Click here.
As of late August, Fright Trail has gained over 530,000 followers on TikTok and their videos have been viewed over 100 million times by Friday, said John Weatherall III. Weatherall, a photojournalist at KLFY-TV, was the man behind the curtain who ran the videos and managed Fright Trail’s TikTok account.
Fright Trail has already gone viral – videos have been shared by blogger and media personality Perez Hilton, UK viral news and entertainment portal UNILAD, and viral video Instagram accounts, but Weatherall said the sudden growth and interest in TikTok has been shocking.
“It was crazy. We didn’t expect it to grow that fast, ”he said.
Weatherall said he enjoyed seeing people embrace the spirit of the Fright Trail and the heartbreaking fun of a good horror.
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“The way I make a lot of videos… captivates people and makes them feel like they are there. Many of the comments and messages I receive are from people who say, “Thank you very much. I love these videos. These make me laugh. I wish I could be there, but I’m all the way in Brazil or Jamaica … I would love to travel one day to see you guys. ‘ It’s a great feeling that people want to visit us, ”he said.
Bringing this joy to the audience takes work.
Weatherall began volunteering at Fright Trail while studying at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette. Ten seasons later, he turned his camera work into a science. The videographer examines the course on the opening night each year, jotting down any changes and selecting the best cut-through spots to help him sneak between the horror stops and follow groups along the way, he said.
An average night takes about six hours to walk through the woods filming scared guests, Weatherall said.
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“When I hear a group shouting really loud from a distance, I aim at them, hurry up and run over to them, take a good shot, and then run to the next area while I navigate through the forest,” he said.
On Sundays following a Fright Trail weekend, Weatherall said he edited his footage, compiled recap videos, and organized clips for posting on TikTok and other platforms. Putting together a one-minute summary of the weekend with the best moments captured on the “scare camera” takes about three to four hours, according to Weatherall.
After 10 seasons, the videographer has learned how to identify the best authentic reactions. That intuition was important, especially with visitors who are now looking forward to the prospect of being featured on the trail’s social media. Reactions that are excessive for the camera can ruin the experience, he said.
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“[John] knows a good shock when he sees you, ”said Hemp.
The Fright Trail owner said supporters like Weatherall are helping make Fright Trail a success.
It’s a team effort, from the makeup artists and actors to the mechanics and builders helping to maintain the property and secure the experience. Running the Fright Trail is a never-ending creative and collaborative process where inspiration stands out at all times, said the fear maker.
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Her volunteer team takes every idea and works it until it’s the best, said Hemp.
“A big part of it is keeping your ego in your back pocket and surrounding yourself with people who are smarter than you,” he said. “I have a lot of hardworking, bright and talented people in this organization and it makes everything work.”
The last Fright Trail dates this season are Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The ticket office opens at 7 p.m.