Perhaps the most controversial IP house of Halloween Horror Nights, The Weeknd: After Hours Nightmare became a lightning rod for controversy. Some in the community tried to say Abel Tesfaye aka The Weeknd was not a horror figure. This argument never really held water, and we’re here to dispel it quickly.
First, many of his music videos and promo materials for After Hours revolved around Body Horror. Are we going to say that David Cronenberg doesn’t qualify as horror now? The plastic surgery fits in with the Vanity Ball scarezone from HHN29.
Second, what’s scarier than being alone? That’s the overwhelming throughline of the album and makes for an introspective and upsetting narrative.
Third, when he’s not alone, The Weeknd tears himself apart with self-loathing in After Hours. He also happens to soak us in dream pop and new wave beats, a staple of 1980s horror.
Listen, it’s simple. The horror community needs to continue to open itself up by accepting that our genre has gone mainstream. We’re no longer the lonely kid in the corner, we can instead open up the umbrella to more non-traditional horror subgenres. Gatekeeping is a bad look, and The Weeknd After Hours Nightmare bodes well for the community. Plus, if the house draws in new generations of HHN fans, or even moves people who would not normally attend the event to come, we can expect creative to get more partnerships and more original IP freedoms in the future.
EXPECTED WAIT TIME
40 – 70 Minutes
Weeknds (sorry had to do it)
CHARACTERS/EFFECTS WE HOPE TO SEE
Red-suited Hoodlums – Red will be the color of the day in this house, and HHN has experience bringing these suits to life. Just ask Jordan Peele. However, it’s not that much of a stretch to draw comparisons to pseudo-horror flicks as well. In his interview with Entertainment Weekly, The Weeknd specifically calls out comparisons to A Clockwork Orange, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, and Jacob’s Ladder. The first one is specifically exciting, as the Weeknd’s red-clothed figures will likely resemble the Droogs in terms of style.
Lizard People – It’s hard to ignore the lizard man on the poster for the house. Seriously, he’s chilling. the inhuman appearance of other characters on the poster showcases just how dark Abel’s dreams really are. It also speaks to the surrealist nature of the house, which has been mentioned several times over. Again, the Jacob’s Ladder reference feels particularly important. Rumors suggest other characters are based on Toads (which he licks in a music video) and Pirannahs (the metaphor is not too subtle).
Masked Cult Members – In the “Save Your Tears” video, it appears that The Weeknd performs in a church/club surrounded by masked figures. The homage to Eyes Wide Shut feels anything but incidental. Given the church setting, we’re also expecting there to be a cult of some kind.
Red Strobes – The red strobes are inevitably going to be present, but the question is how much. Given their association with the police, they can serve a disorienting purpose beyond the bright club lights. If nothing else, expect the red neon glow of brake lights because we’re expecting to see a car or two in the house.
Home Invaders – Before After Hours, The Weeknd dropped a music video where he was strangled by a home invader. That music video for “Starboy” grabbed more than 2 billion views on YouTube and remains one of his most commercially successful songs of all time. While the song will not feature, its clear that Abel’s struggles with fame inspire his nightmares, and a leathered-up home invader seems poised to scare us to no end.
Vegas Aesthetics – One of the great things about The Weeknd as a musician is the complexity of storytelling within his music videos. Several music videos for the songs like “Blinding Lights” and “After Hours” take place under the glitzy lights of Las Vegas (outside the Four Queens Casino). Neon, strobe effects, and blurry reds, blues, and yellows paint his world. The visual palette feels like a mix of Michael Mann’s Collateral if Mann popped MDMA before shooting the video.
Bathrooms – Definitely an unusual choice for most HHN houses, but roll with us. Not only did it make for an excellent set piece in the teaser (above), but it frankly ties closely to The Weeknd’s persona. Cocaine and drug use flow through his lyrics. Sometimes its worth going with the obvious choices.
Subways – It would be quite odd if The Weeknd After Hours does not capitalize on his creepy aesthetic. In fact, the short film, After Hours ends with an implied double homicide. It feels safe to assume this will be present.
Warehouses/Clubs – Throughout his music videos, The Weeknd has shown a preference for finding the seediest club in the business, and then performing there. From Uncut Gems to his various music videos, The Weeknd seems poised to bring us to places that make us uncomfortable, and HHN has never shied away from a concrete room where you might catch dysentery.
Superbowl Light Room – It would be something for HHN to bring to life the light-soaked hallway from the Superbowl. Sure this could be a hazard for HHN guests, but this would be worth it. Right?
WHAT TO WATCH
The Weeknd’s Music Videos
Pretty straightforward. In fact, here’s a list from The Weeknd himself. There are 6 songs that are confirmed to be present in the house as well: “After Hours,” “Blinding Lights,” “Save Your Tears,” “Heartless,” “In Your Eyes,” and “Too Late.”
A Clockwork Orange
The Stanley Kubrick dystopia looks to have some influence in the character design. Additionally, it’s a must watch in terms of film history. Just roll with it. Quick warning, there is extreme violence and sexual assault in the film, so this may affect your viewing experience.
Goosebumps – The Girl Who Cried Monster
Maybe not a perfect 1 for 1 match, but if we’re gonna have monster creatures with humanoid aspects, let’s go with an all-time 90s classic. Any wonder why 90s kids dig horror?