This year’s escape room is serial-killer themed

Imagine being trapped in a series of canopy tents, walls lined with newspaper clippings and masks — the stuff of nightmares. The only way out is through a word-scramble lock, one that doesn’t budge. The stopwatch on the wall is nearing zero, and everyone inside is fervently trying to work their way out of here.

Is this a bad dream or the plot of an Alfred Hitchcock film? No, this is the gory world of Georgia State’s Escape Room: Terrors of the Night

Hosting this Halloween, the Student Recreation Center offers a unique, homemade escape room for students to test their puzzle-solving skills and be sufficiently spooked in the process. 

Inspired by real-life serial killers, this year’s room will include props and clues that resemble the crimes committed by some of America’s most notorious killers. 

Hailey Hester, outdoor recreation coordinator at Georgia State, created the Escape Room two years ago. She said the creative process is no simple feat and has worked on perfecting a few versions of the storyline and puzzle. 

Georgia State senior Will Vonk, second-time actor for the room, has helped Hester bring this haunting and complex world to life. Last Halloween, Vonk could be spotted overseeing the Escape Room, donning a blood-smeared Jason hockey mask. 

Last year, Vonk said, each group had great difficulty escaping within the allotted 30 minutes. He and Hester recommend that the participants work together to escape this make-believe world. 

“You have to really break down some social barriers right away and be willing to state your opinion,” Vonk said. “You kind of have to get into it and maybe be rude to each other from time to time because the time limit adds that pressure.” 

Hester advises not to read too deeply into the clues and adds that the set actors “might not always give an accurate hint.”

“I’ve seen some very complicated math problems occur when [the problem] only needed some simple subtraction,” Hester said. “Just to see people try to do that on the spot with whatever scrap paper they have is pretty entertaining.” 

Hester and Vonk both cite Ted Bundy as their favorite infamous killer. Vonk said this “personal attachment” stems from a peculiar story told by his father. 

In the early 1970s, during Bundy’s criminal heyday, Vonk’s father took a few of his students on a field trip. His father was accompanied by a young female teacher, resembling the demographic of Bundy’s victims. As they drove through Utah, 10-15 cop cars allegedly pulled the group over. 

“He described it as at least 10 cop cars pulling him over on the interstate … all the cops came out with their guns drawn and told him to get out of the car and lay on the ground,” Vonk said. 

Although participants may not feel as petrified as Vonk’s dad, the Escape Room is still sure to deliver. 

Student Sam Cohen has never tried an escape room before, but the novelty of the idea entices him.

“I like that this is a different and interesting way to stay in the Halloween spirit as we get older,” Cohen said.

Student tickets cost $10, and any interested students can register by calling 404-413-1772.