For years, the large retail building on Circle Drive in Saskatoon’s north end was home to a Christian book store, but now, it hosts the city’s newest haunted house based on the 7 Deadly Sins.
The irony isn’t lost on its creator and director, Corrie Swallow.
“When we were first looking at spaces, we looked at a lot of different spaces. When we saw this place and the staircase, it makes for such an amazing focal point, we had to have it,” Swallow said. “Later someone did tell me, ‘hey, that used to be a Christian book store,'” he laughed. “Yeah, I don’t know, it just happened. But we get quite a few comments about it on our Facebook page.”
For Swallow, endeavouring to build a haunted house of this magnitude wasn’t all too difficult; it’s something he’s always dreamed of doing. A professional hypnotist by trade — known by his stage name Corrie J — Swallow had some downtime during the coronavirus pandemic due to restrictions placed on live events.
The result of that downtime is the 7 Deadly Sins haunted house.
“We thought, well, now is a great opportunity to do something, we have to do something, we need to do some kind of work, and a haunted house is what popped into our minds,” Swallow said. “As we started looking into it, there’s a lot more to it than what I really thought there’d be.”
Although the planning stages of development took months, Swallow and his crew had only two weeks of rigorous, detail-oriented work to get the haunted house ready for its Oct. 13 grand opening.
The house includes seven rooms, each of which has a unique theme based on one of the seven deadly sins. What’s more, each of the rooms was sponsored, decorated and staged by a different Saskatoon business, with the help of Swallow and his team. With so many minds at work, each room varies greatly from the next.
“Every one has a certain theme to it,” assistant director Bill Olchoway said. “The lighting, and the actors, and what’s staged here.”
“The seven deadly sins, it just leave it so open for interpretation,” Swallow added. “If you just went with a zombie theme then you know there’s going to be zombie everywhere. But, with the seven deadly sins, it’s just wide open to interpretation.”
The tours have different level of scariness, from 5-7 p.m. it’s child-friendly, lighter, and not as frightening. At 7 p.m. things start to get creepy, and the house gets scarier with each passing hour until 10 p.m. The at midnight and 1 a.m. there are two late tours, that are full-blown terrifying, only a maximum of twelve people are permitted on the midnight tours.
The late shows also feature some mentalism acts and a tarot card reading.
Even Olchoway, a man who helped build this from the ground up, has been scared by the haunted house, a testament to the actors, the staging and the finished product.
“We’ve got live actors, and you never know where they’re going to be,” he said. “There are some hidden places where they can come and go, and the actors do such a fine job, they’re dressed up well,” he added. “You know it’s coming, but all of the sudden… they scare the crap out of you.”