What can be the theme of many people’s nightmares are actually the stuff of dreams for Northern Frights owner, Laura. Her passion for all things horror took her from 13 years working in the oil industry to giving it all up and running her very own spine-tingling horror events and escape rooms in Scotland.
Originally a joint venture in 2013, Northern Frights is currently on its second incarnation and Laura has taken the reins herself. Fed up with spending weekends and (every) Halloween travelling over the border to England to attend horror events and conferences, Laura decided it was time to start Scotland’s only horror convention alongside her Zombie themed escape rooms and murder mystery nights.
The Zombie escape rooms are set 10 years after a huge zombie apocalypse on earth and the customers play as the survivors. They have an hour to get themselves from the science lab into the basement before the zombies break their way in. Through a series of puzzles, challenges and getting their heads together, it’s your typical escape room set up – or is it? Laura also adds the extra element of playing zombie sounds and the players have to play in complete darkness and quiet until the zombies have gone again.
Laura’s passion for horror isn’t something she found as a teenager or in later life. Pictures of her dressed in spooky outfits and costumes go back to when she was around 5 or 6! As she got older she started to volunteer at events across the UK but unfortunately, these were often with no financial reimbursement and the costs soon started to add up.
And the idea for Northern Frights was born. Why couldn’t there be events that paid horror actors a fair wage and supported people who wanted to pursue their passion in this industry? So, with her business partner, they started running haunted house events that actually paid the actors for their time and still made a profit to grow the business.
But then Covid hit and things came to a grinding halt overnight as in-person, group events were banned for quite some time in Scotland.
After a long 18 months, Laura reopened the escape room in October 2021 and found that the whole month sold out fairly quickly but by Christmas and Covid being on the rise again, people started to cancel their events and nights weren’t booking up with the same vigour as before. But that didn’t stop her – Laura continued to promote the events and has kept it going with stronger ticket sales in 2022.
The current cost of living crisis is also not proving the best time as people up and down the country are tightening their belts and perhaps seeing events such as these as a luxury. But with Laura running the escape rooms and murder mysteries out of rented venues as and when she needs them, she’s hoping that the fact she doesn’t have any huge outgoings will allow her to keep them going as well as her biggest and best horror convention yet!
Giving up her full-time job is something Laura wishes she’d done a long time ago. Having the freedom to manage her own time and pick which freelance projects she does alongside Northern Frights has left her much happier.
But it is a labour of love. Currently, Laura runs everything on her own and can often be running from a freelance job to an event in the evening as well as trying to plan bigger projects for further down the line. Long-term she’d love to be able to hire some staff to manage certain aspects of the business for her and ultimately also give up the freelance work and take on Northern Frights full time.
We wrapped up this interview by asking Laura about what was her biggest achievement to date. She told us that someone had told her that it couldn’t be done and she would never sell out a horror convention in Aberdeen. This lack of faith spurred her on to really make the business a success and made the convention even bigger than before. She also said that the whole point of the convention is to shine a light on the great creatives in Scotland and the talent that they have. Support local creators, businesses and industries and everyone benefits.