Years and years ago, an intrepid explorer went round the world collecting all sorts of magical and mysterious objects. And then for one reason or another, he disappeared and nobody has been inside the house since. Could these things be related? We will never know, but what we do know is that kids TV presenter Anna Williamson is challenging groups of three kids to stay in the house overnight in the hope of winning the sleepover of their dreams (at Alton Towers).
It's I'm A Kid... Get Me Out Of A Haunted House!
It's difficult to know what to say really. The kids need to stay in the house between 9PM and 6AM (when the cock crows). If it all gets too much for them, there's a red panic button they can press to end the game, although if they do that then they don't win the big prize. Three times during the night a bell rings and a magic screen challenges a player to a dare, which is normally to go into one of three themed rooms and find a certain object whilst things jump out at them - there's no punishment for failure (and it looks like they can go in and out as many times as they like until they make the decision that they aren't going to do it), but successfully completed dares earn rewards ti help the night go better (including video messages from classmates, which seems a bit cloying seeing as it's only nine hours, but still). During the last half an hour, everything that could get thrown at them does, which is really harsh but there you go.
And do you know? It's really nicely realised.
There's not an awful lot of originality in it's interpretation of "haunted house" - lots of the aforementioned mysterious looking objects, lots of wooden walls and floors, skeletons, cobwebs - it's the very idea of gothicy rustic. Now naturally of course it's just a studio somewhere and isn't really haunted at all. However, they've really gone to town on the special effects front. Everything seems wired up to move suddenly when the kids go near it, some of the walls move, "blood" and gunge come dripping through the walls and ceiling, there's thunder, lightning and the lights go out. From a production point of view, it really is terrific. None of the scares have anything to do with nasty creatures or heights, just the natural sense of darkness and omniprescence.
There seems to be some sort of closet which acts as a makeshift diary room. You'd think it'd be quite scary going in there, but apparently not.
We could at this point have a big debate over the moral implications of the game. Is it right and proper to scare kids in this way for our television amusement?
Tragically, for me it's a bit of a moot point because I thought it was rather good fun. We'd hope that at the very least the kids were shown how some of the special effects work (some of which are very impressive).
We have no idea how long it would take before the game starts to wear a bit thin, but for the moment at least we approve.
11th October 2004:
"Unfortunately, we aren't in a position to encourage people to apply to appear in Scary Sleepover because we don't yet know if there will be another series.
However, it's really nice to know we won't be short of applicants if there is!
We'll let you know."
EDIT: Right, we're sorry kids but we're taking down the comments for this review. This site has no connection to the show and is just a place to spout news and opinion. If you want to get on the show, we suggest you write to Wised Up Productions.