Glass Onion: A Knives Out Experience
Produced by Netflix & VT Pro Design
As experienced in Los Angeles ~ December 2022
The Experience & How it Works:
You show up at the location, show your reservation, share your ID, and are given a wristband with a removable tag that will get you one free drink. Then, you proceed to the inside check-in counter where you’re given a heavy-duty wristband that goes on like a watch and, which you’re told, will light up when it’s your turn to enter the experience. In the meantime, you’re able to order a drink at the bar, take advantage of a photo booth*, and lounge in the lounge. When your wristband lights up, you proceed to the entrance counter where you are directed into the first room of what is, effectively, a light escape-room experience spread across three rooms.
*At the time of writing, photo has still not been received via email.
Why it’s Interesting, IMHO:
I loved the original Knives Out movie, so I was excited to hear that there’s a new movie from the same team and curious what elements of the film(s) they would lean into to create an immersive experience.
Initial Impression & Critical Discussion:
This was a highly engaging experience. Without making the participants characters — you play as yourself — the experience brings you into the story and world. For the most part, the story is about you and your teammates solving the puzzles; in the third room, clips from the movie are played, making it clear that you are having a shadow-experience of that in the film.
Room 1: Participants are encouraged to work together to solve a puzzle.
(Note: The puzzle wasn’t working during our round, so we were passed to the next room.)
Room 2: Participants engage in a memory game involving statues and colored lights. Teamwork and cooperation is required. My group found this to be both enjoyable and challenging.
Room 3: Upon entering a banquet hall with a feast (that presumably recalls a scene from the movie), participants are asked to use their detective skills to deduce which of the desserts is poisoned. The set for this room is particularly well-done and captivating. While the task was engaging and challenging, it was unclear how responses were tabulated — in theory, each individual submits a guess. While we “won,” it was unclear what the experience judged our one final answer to be.
As a side note, we later learned that, while we attempted to solve the mystery in the dining room, other individuals were able to mess with us (e.g., give us clues or make the deduction harder). Since we were unaware this was happening and did not perceive the changes they enacted, we did not feel that our experience was impacted. While offering that level of agency to certain participants may have added to their experience; one might wonder if there might be value to making their impact more clear to those solving the mystery so that it heightens the mystery and gives them an added layer of satisfaction.
- Time is Not a Mystery. Arrive early to enjoy the photo-ops and your free drink in the lounge before the show. Drinks aren’t allowed inside the experience and you exit into a different room than you enter from. Note: The bar has non-alcholic options.
- Get Caught on Camera. While you can take photos throughout the experience, consider taking them promptly upon entering each room, as you don’t want to find yourself distracted once the timed puzzles begin.
Experiential Viewpoint Expression (E.V.E.):
Embodied, 1st person visual, 1st person narrative, participant, mortal
When you arrive at the Glass Onion experience, you’re teamed up with others and work with them to progress through Miles Bron’s mysterious mansion, solving puzzles to see if you have what it takes to be the next Benoit Blanc, and then some of your teammates are whisked off into the estate’s passageways.
Pillars of Game:
Voluntary Participation — check!
Goal — To succeed in getting out of each room and, ultimately, to correctly solve the mystery and discover if you have what it takes to be the next Benoit Blanc.
Rules — (1) You may work as a team; (2) You may touch screens and buttons as directed throughout; (3) Use your intelligence, memory and observational skills to help solve the puzzles.
Feedback — Buzzers and lights, both in the room and on your wristband. A clock: there’s a time limit for solving each puzzle.
Conclusion: This is a game!
Who Should Experience This?
Anyone who enjoys a challenge and a fun night out.