Arts & CultureCampus & City

Deadmonton comes alive at the Paramount

Deadmonton House
October 2nd – Nov 7th Thursday-Sunday
Open all week Halloween Week
Paramount Theater, Jasper Ave.
$20 at the Door, $25 Halloween Week

Deadmonton House continues to set the bar in Edmonton’s Halloween scene in it’s second year of existence with frightening themes, immersive techniques and high-quality set and costume design. Deadmonton founder Ryan Kozar has moved Edmonton’s professional haunted house from the converted warehouse space behind Grant MacEwan, to the abandoned Paramount Theatre on Jasper Avenue. Usually boarded up, and covered with haphazard posters and graffiti: the Paramount Theatre’s large street sign is uncharacteristically lit up, casting a golden light onto the bustling strip.

“We were lucky enough to get the Paramount Theatre this year,” muses owner, Ryan Kozar. “Every horror film has been played in the theatre, so there’s definitely something about an old, abandoned theatre that’s creepy.”

Kozar shares the legend of the William’s Farm — this year’s theme at Deadmonton House: the William’s family ran a pumpkin business that faced devastation when a flood wipes out their farm and deteriorates their business.  Afterwards, weird things began happening, such as locals going missing in town. A local film group decided to turn it into a movie, so they turned it into a film and rented out the town’s local abandoned theatre to screen it.

“I originally based the legend off the Water’s Family in Edmonton. They originally ran a lumber business, so that’s where the idea originated and grew from,” says Kozar.

Walking into the Paramount, one is instantly reminded that the theatre is usually solitary and uninhabited as the chilly air creeps in and clings to your skin. The haunt begins. Patrons sit in the dark, sparse theatre, as the Curse of the William’s Farm begins screening. When the projector begins to falter, things go astray. Patrons are encouraged to exit the theatre out of the basement—the dingy, twisting hallways create the perfect space for the haunt, and high quality set pieces, costumes and design induce fear, tremors, screams and at certain points, nausea. Tons of live actors are hiding in every dark corner with sometimes even more terrifying ones in plain sight.  The farmhouse theme is clearly evident throughout while navigating through scenes like a kitchen, living room and bedroom. Impressively long and intricate, the haunted house concludes, leading patrons to a gift shop and feedback station.

Kozar’s passion for the Deadmonton House is clearly articulated through his prior knowledge about the art of haunted houses, and his willingness to engage with patrons that walk through the creepy scenes. Standing at the exit, he immediately asks for feedback, aspects patrons enjoyed or feel can be improved. When reflecting on what inspires him to continue Deadmonton House, he humbly replies that he is most inspired when people are happy and have a good time.

“When people come out laughing, screaming, crying, that’s awesome,” Kozar says. “I love seeing people’s reaction; that’s my favorite part of scaring people. I know I’ve done my job.”

To help infuse Edmonton with an extra dose of creepiness, the house is open all month, and then every day from Sunday, Oct. 25 to Sunday, Nov. 1.

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