Patrick Michael as "the Devil" stares into the crowd in the 2003 Judgment House at the Christ Temple Church in Huntington.
Truth, someone once said, is scarier than fiction any day.
"Judgment House," now in its fourth year of being presented locally by Christ Temple Church, is based on the premise of a haunted house, with visitors passing from room to room viewing different scenes. But, the similarities end there.
"We felt like we could bring something to the community that's an alternative to a haunted house. You know, to be scared, those scary feelings are a temporal thing," said executive pastor Kevin West. "We are trying for people to see reality throughout eternity."
Judgment House will run eight consecutive nights, beginning Oct. 23 and ending Oct. 31, at the church, located at 2400 Johnstown Road. Doors open at 6 p.m., and groups are guided through the walk-through drama in intervals, with the "house" closing as late as midnight or 1 a.m. Reservations are recommended; children should be accompanied by an adult. Admission is free, though donations are accepted.
"The theme this year is different than last year, which had almost 6,000 people go through," said West, adding than 1,100 were saved after visiting last year's drama. "We have eight scenes, from the first one with high school kids deciding between living in the world versus living for the Lord. It goes from an auto accident to judgment to hell to heaven. It's a reality check, but we think it's worth the 45 minutes to an hour it takes to look at your eternal destiny."
A cast of nearly 300 people is required to stage the Judgment House, which has already received reservations into the thousands for this year's production, guests from all walks of life, the unchurched, regular attendees and others from up to 100 miles away.
"One thing about this is that a lot of people come here from other churches, and we'll let those churches know we're sponsoring this and that some of their members or attendees have come through it, and any decisions they might make," West said. "Many other churches team up with us on this. We're not about just building up our church, but building up the kingdom of God."
West added that the church's café will be open for the purchase of refreshments during the hours Judgment House will be open.
"We're expecting a bigger turnout than last year, and that's exciting," he said.