It’s a dark and lonely night on Demerit Hill farm and screams of ghosts and ghouls fill the air.
Despite the terrifying monsters that live in the woods, the scare-actors that make them come to life are regular people. Take Matthew Delage, he works as a night guard and lives with his fiancé and daughter, but once October hits, he and his fiancé Tara turn into a couple of terrifying creatures that haunt the woods.
Haunted Overload is one of the most popular October activities among the community. A long walk through a woods trail filled with impressive structures, terrifying decorations and most importantly, a cast of completely unique characters played by volunteer scare-actors. Volunteers that work the haunt put lots of thought and effort into making a creative costume that makes them stand out but most importantly, scary! As well as making their own costumes, these actors all have their own fun ways of scaring the customers that come through.
Chloe White has been working for Haunted Overload since 2021. White was first enamored with the art of scare-acting by the Universal Studios Halloween Horror nights in Orlando, and while she wanted to work there, White looked for something a little more local to participate in. Having joined the Haunt a little late in her first year White rushed to find a unique costume, and taking inspiration from a TV show, Haunting of Hill House, White created Eurydice. Eurydice is a 1930s era housewife whose soul resides in the mansion permanently after she hung herself.
Over the years White has experimented with makeup and special effects to bring her character to life. White jokes, “
It’s always a super fun time of year because I have to Google things like; ‘neck ligature marks’ and ‘black eyes.” White has loved her experience at Haunted Overload and shares some of her many stories. “Last year, this guy fell backwards, and he started clutching his chest, and I had a moment of panic because he looked like he was about to have a heart attack, and then he stands up looks at me and goes, ‘Got you!’”
When asked about a typical night working at the Haunt, White said, “We get there, they feed us, we sign in. There’s a big map of the haunt, and you can write your name in dry erase marker where you’re going to be. I usually kind of make my way over to the mansion after I eat and set up. People are usually pushed through in 15-minute intervals, so I keep my ears open.” Although working the haunt is fun, White admits that it can be exhausting. “Haunt hangover is a real thing, so I usually do Fridays and Saturdays.”
Sam Pierce (’26), a student at Dover High School and a fan of Haunted Overload, has been going with friends for four years. “It’s never that scary for me. It’s more about going with friends and enjoying the experience with your friends.” Sophia Edgecomb (’26), another student at Dover High School, has a different opinion about how scary it is. “I’m literally holding my friends hand the whole time.”
Another scare-actor, Matthew Delage, shares his experience creating his costume and character. Delage began working at Haunted Overload in 2021 as well. When Delage was creating his character, he was inspired by the haunted train set in Haunted Overload and decided to create a character that resembled an old train conductor. “That setting of the train station… I immediately thought of an old… very scary old guy, with overalls. Of course, I aged the costume… I wanted it to be authentic. It smells like oil, so all the senses are involved.” Delage’s aim was to make a character that had not been thought of for Haunted Overload before and is one of the only scare-actors that occupies the train area of the haunt.
The effort that actors put into their appearance does pay off, as there are many scare-actors that stand out and stick in people’s memories. Sophia Edgcomb says “There was this girl at the beginning with demon horns and an eyeball in her mouth… It’s like scary and gross.”
Another actor working as the haunt is Tara Russo, Delage’s fiancé. Russo’s character, although it may be simpler, could be deemed the scariest of all. With the costume being made up of only a black cloak and latex mask Russo admits that she didn’t put much thought into she instead uses other tactics to get scares “Some people dress as clowns or you know… but I just wanted to be something that lurked in the shadows, and I think that’s something that comes from my own subconscious. I have this fear of something in the dark that I can’t see just coming after me.” Russo uses her costume to blend into the dark woods, she likes to stay low, and then rise up fast when nobody can see her. She recalls stories that show just how effective her scare technique is. “Last year I was in the body bag section… of course you can’t see me, and I hear this big macho guy come walking with his girlfriend. I literally just leaned out and hissed. He screamed, stumbled back and fell on his butt. I was laughing so hard.”
Eric Lowther, the owner, and founder of Haunted Overload, takes all the proceeds from the haunt and donates them to charity. Since all the scare-actors are volunteers, Haunted Overload has donated up to 80,000 dollars to charity each year. These charities include the Cocheco Valley Humane Society.
Haunted Overload is a great activity for friends and family and does a great job at bringing the community together. White comments, “It’s about scaring people but it’s also about making a little bit of magic and being entertaining… and it just feels like a big family.”