Many room escape places in Toronto (and abroad as well) have chosen to theme some of their rooms in a scary fashion. The pairing of Horror themes and room escapes has always seemed natural to me. Room escapes can build an experience similar to haunted houses, with the addition that puzzle solving is more interactive than just walking through a house.
Not everyone agrees with me! I like to chat with room escape owners whenever I get the opportunity. Sarah from Escape Room Niagara Falls (http://www.escaperoom.ca/) said that she aimed for an experience that was creepy, rather than scary. Niagara falls is a tourist spot, and it’s a great move to have an activity where a whole family can enjoy together. I also spoke with Ting from Locked-In Room Escape (http://www.locked-in.ca/), who maintained that they wanted to provide an experience where groups can solve puzzles rationally and logically, without being distracted by an atmosphere of fear.
However, I’d like to make an argument for horror. We enter scary room escapes or ride roller coasters or watch scary movies, and there’s a quick visceral response; We feel anticipation and dread for the scares we know are coming. What other theme can invoke emotions so quickly in a 45/60 minute time frame? My only complaint about the scary rooms in Toronto is that they lack imagination. Too many of them use the same gimmicks.