Deadmonton is back downtown this month to play on your biggest fears with its latest iteration: The Summoning. We sent two of our bravest volunteers to preview one of the city’s scariest haunted houses. They survived, and told us their thoughts.
Deadmonton hosted a trial run of their haunted house at the old Paramount Theatre on the evening of Thursday, Sept. 28, inviting relatives, friends, and members of the media—including the griff—to experience what the attraction had to offer.
As the mostly eager visitors lined up at the entrance of the theatre, the actors were already out and dressed in their costumes, scaring them.
“You guys are the first people to go through this season, so our actors are pumped and ready to scare you,” said Kathrine Petch, manager of Deadmonton.
Petch explained that the theme for this year’s Deadmonton house is about Frankie, a former custodian of the theatre who is upset about a haunted house being built in his space.
Wanting nobody on his premise, Frankie summoned evil spirits to do his bidding and give the visitors an experience they will never forget.
“So, you will find Frankie and his friends in there, who are going to try to scare you out of here,” Petch said.
Throughout the house, laughter and screams could be heard as the visitors progressed in groups of four or five people.
At first, the halls leading into the house were dark and quiet, but as the visitors ventured deeper into the building, the nightmares began to show themselves.
At every corner, a dark figure would hide in either plain sight or in complete darkness, waiting for the right opportunity to strike its victims.
The experience of going through the house was an intense thriller, especially for those who confronted their fears.
It’s really dark. There are people screaming. My hands are clammy. A curtain splits and a frightened creature invites me inside. He tells a story and issues a warning, but I am not really listening. I am too anxious for what awaits me inside.
Every corner I turn reveals a repressed fear from my childhood. Killer clowns, demon- possessed dolls, a claustrophobic simulation which felt staggeringly similar to the time I was jammed into my elementary school locker, and multiple renditions of the monster that lived under my bed. I keep telling myself that I’m an adult and this is all make-believe, but the actors are too convincing and the sets are too elaborate.
While my childhood fears were cliché, a lot of Deadmonton isn’t. Many elements are unexpected. It is not all fun and games—some scenes include deeply disturbing material.
The psychology of the terror changes after a lengthy descent down a spiralling concrete stairwell into the basement. It is no longer the monster under my bed. It may be the demented psyche of a serial killer or a horrific crime scene. Either way, I want my mommy.
Deadmonton evokes a sense of nostalgia, of the fear we had as children of things too terrifying to imagine, of being able to scream (and laugh and cry) with a child’s abandon. I was quickly reminded of old Halloween costumes and the ghostly magic that this time of year provides.
Grab your friends, and maybe a clean pair of underpants, and check out Deadmonton. It is a wickedly good time that will have you reliving the fears of your childhood.
Deadmonton 2017 runs from Sept. 29 until Nov. 5. Tickets start at $24. For more information, see Deadmontonhouse.
Photography by Tim Johnson.