Those who are familiar with Hauntu would know that they are the first in Malaysia to provide an episodic, plot-based haunted house experience whereby players are part of the cast too.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, they pivoted to host a short live online escape room which we had the pleasure of reviewing prior. It gained such encouraging public response that it has become a permanent feature of Breakout, the sister company of Hauntu.
The same creators are back once again with Pepsi Lost in Karak (May 26 to May 30, 2022) which is their first physical event post-pandemic.
The event was designed in collaboration with The Livescape Group, and sponsored by Pepsi, and it comes with a completely unique storyline, which further adds to the suspense in this event.
A horror experience on the Karak Highway?
The Karak highway is extremely infamous for being haunted. Just Google “Karak haunted” and you’ll find almost 400,000 links of the location on listicles of top haunted places in Malaysia, featured in “real and true” ghost stories, and more.
What better location to leverage for a truly hair-raising experience? Pepsi Lost in Karak brings together the real-life location, controversial legends, and Hauntu’s creativity in a 30-minute experiential event.
Participants roleplay as scientists whose main objective is to find the cure for a deadly disease, but are they bold enough to search for it?
Like with most Hauntu episodes, you will be interacting with characters played by trained local actors on a meticulously designed set to ensure that you get the most immersive and horrifying experience possible.
Meet the brains behind this chilling experience
The three main masterminds behind this project are Pepsi, Hauntu, and The Livescape Group.
Fun fact: Livescape had actually tried to execute a similar project in October 2020. It was a themed drive-through event called “Karak Haunted Highway”.
Unfortunately, it was cancelled due to the CMCO. But clearly, Livescape wasn’t ready to just drop this gem of an idea.
Two years later, they’re bringing it back as an elevated experience with the help of the horror experts themselves, Hauntu, and the continued support of Pepsi. According to Johnny, Experience Designer and co-founder of Hauntu, the entire experience took about 4 to 5 months of planning to execute.
Not forgetting the on-ground cast either, the majority of the actors on set are those who were severely affected by the pandemic in the past 24 months. For context, the entire industry suffered around RM85 million in losses in 2021.
With the country transitioning to the endemic phase starting May 1, 2022, most industries, including the culture and arts industry, can expect to enter a recovery phase.
Roshafiq Roslee, writer and director for Pepsi Lost in Karak, noted, “One of our main objectives was to get our local theatre practitioners (actors, dancers, set designers, prop makers, costume designers, and makeup artists) who lost their jobs in the theatre scene, the job they are passionate about.”
“We want to give back their satisfaction in making art and support them financially.”
Being the group of passionate creatives they are, they knew that they didn’t want to rely on cheesy jumpscares to make a memorable impression.
Instead, Roshafiq believes that the real secret to horror today lies in its narrative. He added, “It also lies in putting our audiences in an uncomfortable place where they question their morality and insanity.”
Contrary to usual horror media, Pepsi Lost in Karak is a little different since you’re not here to play nice as a protagonist. That’s all we’ll say.
What were some of the challenges faced?
In creating this project, the team was thrown for a loop themselves. During the pandemic, Iqbal, founder of Livescape, pointed out that it became much harder to find experienced talents and suppliers who were able to offer their services as some of them opted for a career change instead.
Since the set for Pepsi Lost in Karak is 2,100 sq ft (a third of Hauntu’s 6,400 sq ft), it was pretty challenging to design as there would be more actors to manoeuvre around in a small space filled with props while delivering an immersive performance.
Another aspect that they had to be sensitive about was being mindful when taking existing cultures as references when creating fictional characters.
There was some backlash because the characters closely resembled indigenous communities in Malaysia, but Roshafiq reassured us by saying, “The aesthetic of their look is based on their geography and economic aspect.”
“We created a totally fictional culture and religion. But of course, when creating a fictional world, we went and took some references from around the globe.”
He and the team always made sure that the characters are not included in the story solely for their shock value, which drives more focus to the story itself.
If you’ve visited Hauntu before, you can expect the Pepsi Lost in Karak’s rich storytelling that’s scary and definitely not for the faint of heart.
In addition to that, this is the first time Hauntu has created a storyline that involves an outdoor scene with a forest area and a village, which provides a completely new experience.
Tickets to the Pepsi Lost In Karak Challenge can be bought from Hauntu’s official website at RM39/pax. Those who bought tickets to the “Karak Haunted Highway” event two years prior can transfer their passes to this event by filling up this request form.
So, think you’re bold enough to go on a “drive”?
- Get the Pepsi Lost in Karak tickets on Hauntu’s website.
- Check out their terms and conditions page and FAQ here.
Featured Image Credit: Hauntu