The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare haunted house heading to Universal's Halloween Horror Nights
The Weeknd and Universal Studios will take your breath away at this year's Halloween Horror Nights, where haunted houses will be themed to the surreal world of the pop superstar's 2020 album After Hours.
EW can exclusively reveal that both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orlando Resort will open The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare walk-through attractions later this year as part of the annual Halloween Horror Nights celebration. There, guests will travel into the mind of the Canadian singer-songwriter to visit the twisted fantasies that inspired his hit album.
"I always wanted my own Halloween Horror Nights haunted house, as Halloween has always been significant to my music, so this is a total dream come to life," Abel "The Weeknd" Tesfaye said in an exclusive statement to EW. "I feel like my music videos have served as a launching pad for a collaboration like this, and I cannot wait for people to experience this madness!"
As Halloween Horror Nights executive producer John Murdy and Orlando senior show director Charles Gray exclusively tell EW, the single-house experience at both parks expands on the grim world The Weeknd built through After Hours' visuals (think bandaged maniacs, excessive plastic surgery terrors, and, yes, red suits). They describe the journey as a "fever dream" hellscape about "surviving L.A." — and the horrors that come with it.
"What came out of it was extracting the nightmares: What would it be like if we were inside his head while he's creating this album?" says Gray, adding that The Weeknd's affinity for films like A Clockwork Orange, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Jacob's Ladder is on display throughout the project. "It isn't a retelling of the After Hours album; it's entering the nightmares that were the muse for his songs. "There's a lot of surrealistic, horrific imagery as we [expanded upon scenarios] inspired by the videos."
Soundtracked by six of The Weeknd's songs — "After Hours," "In Your Eyes," "Heartless," "Blinding Lights," "Save Your Tears" (solo version), and "Too Late" — the house is broken into three sections, preceded by an indoctrination into the performer's subconscious.
"The first thing we do once we enter the house proper is go into a sequence called Nightmare Extraction, where you see The Weeknd, almost like in Clockwork Orange, where he's strapped into a chair with a headset, and the headset is connected to all these different monitors. All this darkness going on inside his head creating this album is being sucked out, and you're seeing these images flash subliminally, like the whole thing is about to explode," explains Murdy, who says there will be an "articulated," lifelike figure of The Weeknd's body that will twitch as guests walk by. "All of that stuff that's getting pulled out of his head, we're going to have to face all of those things and dark places he went to in creating the album."
What follows is a trek through environments we've seen before in The Weeknd's music videos, but taken a step further. After Hours Club, for example, is an industrial warehouse lifting vibes from "In Your Eyes," including long "hallways in a dirty, dingy, warehouse club." ("And the bathrooms are nasty," per Gray.) Next, the Las Vegas-themed After Hours Hotel throbs with the sounds of "Heartless." The finale takes place in the After Hours Station, a subterranean metro tunnel that recalls the locale last seen in The Weeknd's disturbing After Hours short film.
There are live performers and effects around every corner as well. You'll meet "a horrific toad creature unlike anything you've ever seen before," Murdy promises, noting a particular moment lifted from the "Heartless" music video. Lizard heads and piranha faces proliferate the club, and textured bits of, well, "stuff" will dangle from above and graze your skin. You'll also be blasted in the face with high-pressure air and spurts of water, all to "make you think you're getting hit in the face with blood."
"It can get pretty tactile," Gray finishes. Have fun sleeping tonight.
See EW's exclusive first-look preview of the new experiences above before The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare opens Sept. 2 at the Universal Orlando Resort and Sept. 8 at Universal Studios Hollywood.
Tickets for Halloween Horror Nights 2022 are available now.
Hear more on all of today's must-see picks on EW's What to Watch podcast, hosted by Gerrad Hall.
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