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The Dark Side of the Design District Nohely Mendoza | Sat, Oct 15 2011 12:00 PM

For the first time ever, Chula Vista has its very own major haunted house this Halloween, The Dark, which runs through Oct. 31.

The Dark was an idea created by Diana Ocampo, 37, back in July and since then staff got the house completed in a short timeframe.

"This haunted house is different from any other because it's a mental thriller, everyone is afraid of the dark because you don't know what is around you," said Ocampo, a partner in the production of The Dark.

The house will be made up of more than eight rooms that include hillbillies, clowns, exorcists and the like.

"The Dark is a unifying theme that connects the rooms by a maze. We try and put things you see in different haunted houses with our own unique spin on it," said Jeff Rankin,43, creative designer of The Dark.

Although the location of The Dark encompasses more than 16,000 square feet, the main concern when creating the haunted house was space.

"We went through a couple of ideas as to where we could have it. Our partner Diana is involved with the paintball field in the Otay Shopping Center, but there is a business running there already, so we kept looking for a location we could use," Rankin said. "We picked the Eastlake Center and they worked with us to set up a space there. Then we worked with lighting and sound, all of the different elements that had to be explored. We connected themes that we wanted and set up a layout to create anticipation. We want the people to not know what's coming, we didn't want to give anything away from room to room."

More than 23 people were hired and designated to scare individuals.

"We worked with Southwestern College, some of the actors who are studying there are working with us, it's an opportunity to show their skills," said Rankin.

For actor Brian Beckstrom, 20, the opportunity to work at The Dark came to him through an ad on Craigslist.

"It's really fun to jump out and scare people," said Beckstrom, "I play a scary toy monster in a children's room together with an evil rabbit, it's dark and I jump out when they least expect it."

Like any other haunted house, the same rules apply. There is no smoking, alcohol, use of flashlights, or touching of actors or props allowed.

"The price is $20, but we have coupons around town to get in for $10, and we have fliers with $5 off," said Ocampo.

More than 5,000 people are expected to visit the haunted house.

The Dark is now open and will run every day through Oct. 31 from 7 p.m. to midnight at 851 Showroom Place, Suite 100, in the Eastlake Design District next to Eastlake Tavern and Bowl and Brew House in Eastlake.

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