It's no secret that Weyburn's horror fans are looking forward to taking in the 'Haunting of Heritage Hill' this weekend.
Ernie Parisien, Creator of Mayhem Manor, said this year he made an early reveal of the location, Heritage Village, rather than waiting until the first day of production.
"I always hold off until the day of, to announce it, but people kept messaging me on my own personal Facebook page and the Mayhem Manor page, they wanted to know everything. It was just constant, so I said, 'I better release it', as I was getting tired of the questions."
He said the completely-volunteer group of organizers had arranged to use the City's historical village last year.
"The plans were set forth, and late into the season I decided to pull the pin, just because we couldn't guarantee anything with COVID rules, so then they honoured the promise, that we can have it again for this year."
Parisien said rather than being limited to one theme, this year they were able to work within 13 different buildings at the unique venue, and have created 'tunnels' or pathways to lead participants from one house to the next.
Nothing in any of the old houses, which include the RCMP barracks and the old schoolhouse, is at any risk.
"We've just got enough building experience from all the other shows, all the other places that have been donated to us, we do take care and make sure that the belongings aren't being destroyed or anything like that. Obviously, we're all adults, and you have to be on good behavior to proceed," he said, noting they did have to move some items, however, to meet the three-foot egress.
"Nothing in the houses is covered up. Everything is still there for display," shared Parisien. "A lot of the valuables, we went in and we cataloged everything, and took pictures of exactly how things were set up so when we're done, we'll put everything back."
Most of the furniture remains, however, so anyone who thinks the familiar scenes will be predictable can look forward to a new perspective on the village.
The tunnels they've created are sure to help create added mystery between each of the scenes.
"But you can only guess what's in the next place by going in there," he said, adding the screams of the terrified will be drowned out by their variety of loud, fast-paced music. "So the sounds that you should hear, you probably won't be able to hear until it's too late."
Each scene is loosely based on a classic horror movie, as opposed to the singular themes of past years, such as the Asylum held at the City Centre Mall in 2019.
"Here, there are 19 buildings, 18 that we can use, and 13 that we can occupy. All of them present something unique and different, so I based every place after something. So it's not one, it's 13 different things."
Heritage Village also allows room for more actors.
"The mall is 5,000 square feet, and we had just over 40 actors. This one, we are pushing in 55, close to 60 actors, once I fill everything, and it's massive, so I'm utilizing as much of it as I possibly can."
The Haunting of Heritage Hill will run on Friday and Saturday nights from 7:00 p.m. to midnight, and on Sunday and Monday, from 7:00 to 10:30 p.m. Each tour should take about 25 minutes, at intervals of four groups (of three or four people) touring at a time.
Admission is $20, and patrons are asked to dress warm, and wear comfortable shoes.
"We're not in control of the weather, and some of the surfaces can be slick if we get some moisture, and if temperatures dip, and then you can also be standing in line for an hour and a half," he explained.
Due to the venue and the layout of this haunt, the weekend afternoon G-rated viewing for kids will not be possible.
"That's always been very popular. It's always garnished great donations, and also laughter from the kids, but this year, just with the location, we just can't do that."
Any persons with sensory processing issues or epilepsy, or are prone to migraines, should be cautious, he warned.
"We do run fog, we do run the strobes, so it's high-intensity lighting. It's shock lighting, so you can go from pitch black to extremely bright within half a second. Lots of loud sounds, loud music," noted Parisien. "People know what they can and can't do."
With warnings in place, he said people who are sensitive to strobe lights, "usually seem to stay within the middle of their single-file group, and maybe hold on to the shoulders of the people in front of them with their heads down until they get through that building and then they'll continue on. "
He also cautioned that Heritage Village is not wheelchair accessible, as there are stairs leading into every building.
With the potential to be waiting in line for a while, it's a good thing that Pet Valu Weyburn will be set up each night making hot and cold food available to purchase, with all proceeds being donated to the Weyburn Humane Society
Parisien added the proceeds from Mayhem Manor this year will go to Heritage Village as well as to other local charities to be announced at a later date.