The Griff

Plenty of scares at Paramount

Downtown

Plenty of scares at Paramount

Deadmonton succeeds with this year's haunted theatre.

For its second year running, Deadmonton House is bigger, scarier, and more theatrical than ever.

If you remember Deadmonton’s first haunted house last year, you’ll remember the legend of the Williams family. Last year, we visited the family’s cursed farm and experienced a combination of B-movie gore and Tim Burton-style horror that was both thrilling and terrifying. This month, the curse spreads to the Paramount Theatre on Jasper Avenue. A film company produces a movie based on the family’s tragedies, but the curse spreads and the entire cast and crew end up on the bloody cutting room floor.

It’s great to see how much Deadmonton has grown in only one year. Last year, the Williams family farm consisted of the house, stables, and fields all crammed inside a warehouse, and half of it had a campy aesthetic that was more claustrophobic than frightening.

This year is different. The horror comes to life as Deadmonton takes advantage of local resources. Using an abandoned building such as the Paramount Theatre, which is already rumoured to be haunted, gives the experience a more genuine thrill. The costumes and the settings are also more realistic. Ryan Kozar, Deadmonton’s organizer, has upped his game since last year. While participants are finding their way through the theatre aisles and backstage, there’s no telling which ones are props and which ones are volunteers in costumes — until they finally jump out at you.

Speaking of the volunteers — nothing brings a haunted house to life more than this passionate group of individuals. These people are dedicated to their roles and will do anything to make you scream. The only drawback is that there are not enough of them to fill every dark corner in the building. However, that could just be a setback resulting from using a larger building than last year.

The building’s sprawling size is another downside to this year’s Deadmonton display. The Paramount is filled with winding stairs and hallways — and they’re empty. Between certain rooms, there are long expanses of hallways with no decorations or volunteers waiting behind the corner. There isn’t even a bloody handprint smeared on the wall or a hidden scream soundtrack to make you feel like you are still in the theatre. If I’m being reasonable, these moments of normality are short-lived as you go between different rooms, but it feels like Deadmonton didn’t plan enough for those few areas.

But these are just small criticisms. Keep in mind that Deadmonton is still a recent development, and it can only get better as it becomes more rooted in the Edmonton community. Deadmonton is also collaborating with local businesses to sell their Halloween-themed products in the haunted house’s gift shop. In addition, just like last year, a portion of Deadmonton’s profit will be donated to a local charity or non-profit organization.

For those thrill-seekers and trick-or-treaters looking for a real scare, Deadmonton’s haunted theatre is a must-see.

Photo by Casey Pollon.