The Weeknd Is Turning 2020’s After Hours Into A Nightmarish Haunted House
You can now enter the macabre mind of The Weeknd.
This Halloween, The Weeknd is inviting fans to experience After Hours in a whole new way. At both Universal Studios Hollywood and Universal Orland Resort, the musician (real name: Abel Tesfaye) will be collaborating with the theme parks’ Halloween Horror Nights to bring haunted houses inspired by his 2020 album to life. After Hours and its music videos tapped into dark visuals (i.e. “bandaged maniacs, excessive plastic surgery terrors, red suits”), and the haunted houses will build on this horror-themed world.
The project is the stuff of dreams for The Weeknd — and of nightmares for attendees. “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,” he said in a statement to Entertainment Weekly. “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!”
John Murdy and Charles Gray, executive producers and show directors at the Universal-owned properties, added that the journey would be “a fever dream hellscape about surviving L.A. — and the horrors that come with it.” The project originally stemmed from The Weeknd’s public interest in horror films (like A Clockwork Orange, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Jacob’s Ladder) and the way they’ve manifested in his music and artistry. “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?” Gray said. “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.”
The experience itself will, of course, feature The Weeknd’s music from the 2020 album, including “After Hours,” “In Your Eyes,” “Heartless,” “Blinding Lives,” “Save Your Tears,” and “Too Late.” The attractions will reportedly be split into three different sections: After Hours Club, Hotel, and Station.
As an introduction to the houses, visitors will first enter The Weeknd’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,” Murdy said. “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.” While The Weeknd won’t be there in the flesh, Murdy did promise an “articulated, lifelike figure of The Weeknd’s body that will twitch as guests walk by.”
Because his music videos served as the blueprint for the experience, the haunted houses will build upon visuals concocted by The Weeknd. After Hours Club lifts its look and feel from the “In Your Eyes” video, which included “hallways in a dirty, dingy, warehouse club.” The Hotel will be Las Vegas-themed and take cues from “Heartless,” while the Station portion resembles the metro station tunnel pulled from his After Hours short film.
With it being a musical, visual, and psychological experience, Murdy also promised there will be genuine scares like “a horrific toad creature unlike anything you’ve ever seen before.” He cites the “Heartless” music video as a touchpoint for the project with “lizard heads and piranha faces proliferating the club, and textured bits will dangle from above and graze your skin.” Gray added that “it can get pretty tactile,” referencing high-pressure air and water blasts meant to “make you think you’re getting hit in the face with blood.”
So if you’ve ever wanted to live inside of a music video — particularly a creepy one from the brain of The Weeknd — this is your chance. Tickets are on sale now and the exhibition will be running on select nights from Sept. 2 through Oct. 31 at the Florida and California locations only. Enter if you dare.