WOWEEEEEE!!! What a haunt!! What a location!! What a worthwhile trip to Canon City!! Yep, critics and I made the pilgrimage to Canon City to check out The Dark Side of the Abbey, a haunt we knew very little about, other than the fact that it has been built by kids ages 14-21 and their parents.
Now, I should know better by now than to be skeptical about any haunt; if there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years, it’s that you never can tell what’s inside. Never. But, here I was, skeptical but hopeful, headed down to Canon City to see for myself. I’m very glad I did!
Driving to the haunt started as a nice mini road trip but once we got on Highway 50 it got very dark with only a sliver of moonlight in the dark sky. The fear I had been building up about the “Unplugged” side of this haunt during the week before actually going was creeping up on me on that dark stretch of highway; its icy fingers wrapping around my neck and slowly squeezing the air from me.
Remember, I’m not even at the haunt yet. I took the liberty of looking up pictures of the Holy Cross Abbey and the Tudor-Gothic design of this 90 year old, once Catholic Monastery was more than enough to get my creepy wheels turning. The architecture is stunning to say the least, but couple in the rumor of the Abbey being truly haunted and that’s enough to get me started!
You went and Googled it didn’t you? I’ll wait; it’s more than worth it.
Are you back? Goood. I’m rambling aren’t I? I can’t help it, I was left in this condition after going through the haunt; they definitely leave their mark on you, quite literally.
The way we entered the haunt was unique and I won’t spoil it by saying how, I’ll simply say that the entrance alone told me that I was in for an experience unlike any other I had ever had in a haunt. I was right.
Scares came in all shapes and sizes and mine came immediately upon getting inside and being stopped by the sternest, meanest nun I had ever come across. I spent some of my youth in Catholic school and was no stranger to the ruler, so when I saw Sister Stern, I was ready to run the other direction. I kept my mouth shut and did exactly as I was told. Old habits die hard I guess. She dug into old childhood fears in an instant and had my heart pounding like a jackhammer. I haven’t even made it in yet. I’m in for a crazy ride, there’s no question in my mind now.
Once I made it past her I found myself about ready to enter the asylum. I could hear screams and crazed laughter echoing from somewhere within the cavernous basement I was in and I was definitely on edge.
The maintenance man took a break from his frantic running back and forth to stop and give our group instructions on how to conduct ourselves within the confines of the asylum. He paid special attention to Alex G, asking if he was going to be a problem and giving him a look that made my skin crawl and utter a vow to be on my best behavior.
Once the gate was opened and I stepped inside I realized that I had entered into an unknown world of derangement and terror, stirred up with a nice dose of disgusting and downright creepy to spice it up a bit. As if it needed it! Being in the basement of a 90 year old building is enough to bring the shivers on, but the crew here took that to a whole new level with some great props and incredible acting.
There were so many great actors in here I’m afraid of overlooking anyone. My absolute favorite was Pierre, the facility chef. He had some disgusting fare on the table when I arrived with my group and he stopped and took the time to shake hands with each of us and introduce himself. He then went on to hit the bottle on the shelf because that is what one of his pots on the stove needed; for him to drink more until it tasted good. I loved the comedic relief in here and found myself trusting him when I knew better. He took advantage of my trust and with the oven pouring smoke, Pierre gave me a final treat before I left the room. What an incredible performance!!!
Maniacal laughter filled my ears as room after room I encountered crazed patients, some walking on beds in circles, some rolling around in a caged areas babbling incoherently, while others slithered and contorted their way around at my feet making me terrified to take a step.
Others, like the priest, came totally unhinged in a way I had never seen done before and his approach was very remarkable and threatening. He literally made the entire group step back in fear and gasp. He took his acting to a level I haven’t seen in a loooong When he came at me with his palpable intensity he literally held me paralyzed with fear and took the last breath from my lungs. His soul piercing stare is heart stopping. I’m still scared of him and getting goosebumps. That never happens; OUTSTANDING JOB!!!
The entire crew did an outstanding job and everyone was cast well into their roles and and that made for a fantastic experience!!
Sets were very well done and as stated before, the building itself is an incredible stage for all of the amazing performances to be brought to life. Peeling paint on the ceilings, musty smells and the ancient building design itself were more than plenty to set the tone and the scenes overall. Add in realistic props and incredible acting and the entire experience comes together to take patrons on a journey into the depths of insanity not soon forgotten.
If you’ve never taken a dark, lonely ride up highway 50 at night, I recommend you do, but never alone. Creep into Canyon City’s quiet streets and pay a visit to The Abbey. She won’t disappoint.
Pros: The Abbey Itself, Incredible acting, outstanding sets
Cons: Not one thing….amazing!!!
If you’re going to do a haunted house, the Abbey seems like the perfect place to do it. Driving out to Canon city in the dark already feels like heading out to the scene of your grisly murder. Then, out in the dark on highway 50, the Abbey appears in a little secluded spot, an old gothic-style building looking lost in time. The rumors are that the building really is haunted, and looking at it from the outside was already enough to give me some chills.
What follows once you get inside is a series of rooms built to disorient and disturb, and the entire theme is tightly maintained the whole way through, something other haunts would do well to learn how to achieve. Nothing feels out of place in the entire haunt, and all of it comes together to build to a genuinely scary atmosphere. Only a couple of the scenes inside the Abbey are different from what you’ll see elsewhere but the ones that are had a real twist that made things quite… disturbing. Pay attention to the guy in the bathroom and the chef – both of whom are up to no good in two completely separate but equally squicky ways.
What does stand out about the scenes was the way the actors and the set designers forced you to route through their creations. When I entered a ward full of beds for crazy people, for instance, it wasn’t something that I hadn’t seen a thousand times other places, but it was the first time that I had to walk all the way to the end of the ward, around one of the beds, and back again in order to get out, and not only did it allow me to examine more of their handiwork, but it also made me stay in a room that made me feel uncomfortable for a long period of time, ramping up the tension and creepiness.
If I had any complaint, it would be that a few of the sets looked a little sparse as the haunt moved on, lacking some of the details that the earlier rooms had, but by that point the actors were doing things that were certainly enough to attract my attention enough (like the guy in the room with the chairs that has to be seen to be believed) that they weren’t really missed.
Pros: Fantastic use of space, Good routing through scenes, Fun interactivity
Cons: A couple areas felt a little sparse on set design
Justeen Walters – Alumni Guest Critic
Review coming soon!
Alex Kratz – Alumni Returning Critic
So I have been away from the haunt scene for a couple years now so what better way to get myself back into it by going to a haunt I have never even heard of. I was enticed with the fact that this whole haunt is run out of a real old abbey building. Nothing screams pants-pooping scary like a real old building.
The group of kids (Crew 121) who put this whole thing together had the best place to put the dilapidated insane asylum theme to work. The old basement of the abbey was not only eerie and daunting on its own merits, I think they did an absolutely great job putting their rooms into an equally terrifying fashion. One big thing that a lot of haunts never seem to get right is the smell. Scenes in a cannibal’s kitchen that really smell like nasty meat sell it even if some of the props aren’t up to par. It’s also the little surprises such as actually getting sprayed by a psycho doctor’s syringe while walking by that can make a huge difference.
The overall appearance, use of props and sets was really good, but some of that can be lended to the great venue. The basement in the abbey seemed to just go on and on. I am not too sure what I can say about the overall length of this haunt other than it felt like it wasn’t too long, but at no point did I feel like it was too short. Too short of a haunt and it feels like a gype. Too long and things can start to feel less scary or just become annoying.
All the young actors, actress’ and even the parents helping did a really amazing job. To be honest, I was going into this haunt thinking that some kids threw together some slap-dash event. I was sorely mistaken. They really took their theme and ran with it. Everyone had their room, their role and they stuck with it. The room with a girl bouncing wildly around on three beds inside of a chicken wire fence was actually un-nerving. I guess my surly old man attitude was proven wrong!
All in all, Darkside of the Abbey was a lot of fun. There were plenty of legitimate scares, wonderful sets and designs, great young actors and a fantastic location.
I will point out a few things I noticed on the other side, however. There were a few rooms where nothing special really happened. The very first room, while not bad, could have used some extra decor and some more interaction from the actors aside from just screaming the entire time. Just keep new ideas coming in and don’t be afraid to try something new!
Pros: Great building, more than just sights, lots of great young actors
Cons: A few rooms lacking in detail, needs a bit more creative interaction with actors
The Dark Side of the Abbey has the perfect backdrop. The haunt is actually in an old abbey that’s rumored to be haunted. It’s a great atmosphere and the story that goes with it adds to the haunt. It’s even better to face entering the basement of such a building to get into the haunt.
Once inside, the whole thing is an insane asylum. They did a great job with the sets. Every room felt like it fit. The rooms follow a natural progression, too. We started by walking through a security checkpoint and reception area and then headed into the asylum. I liked how the whole walk through, it felt like a hospital gone wrong should. There was a large patient room, a kitchen, and even a chapel. Everything felt as though it had been a normal hospital at one point. Of course, the hospital we walked through had gone horribly wrong. It wasn’t just the sets, there were rank smells, we were sprayed by air and water, and the patients were leading, or misleading, us through the haunt.
The actors had a good grasp of their characters. There were a variety of crazies all throughout. Some were just laughing maniacally, while others hit us with the quiet crazy that gives me shivers. Others rambled at us; I particularly liked the actor in the bathroom. His interaction was great and his props almost made me throw up. It was the most wonderfully disgusting bathroom scene. The actors interacted with us pretty well all around. I loved the inmates that would lead us astray, only to have to find our way back to the path. The actor in the chapel was the most intense of them all. He came running at me and I couldn’t help but flinch.
Overall, I really enjoyed The Dark Side of the Abbey. The atmosphere was really good, built on the great sets, the actor performances, and the location itself. The asylum theme is one of my favorites and this is one of the best asylum haunts I’ve seen. It definitely has my recommendation.
Pros: theme, atmosphere, great acting
|2951 U.S. 50
Canon City, Colorado
|Every Friday and Saturday starting October 10, including Halloween 7 PM – 11 PM|
|Venture Crew 121 (branch off Boyscouts) wants to thank you all for supporting us. We also like to thank our sponsors for your help and donations. Please join us for our best haunted house year to date. We truly believe that our haunted house is the best in Fremont county!! Please share and like our page, thank you!! If you have any questions please private message us.|
|DARKSIDE OF THE ABBEY. It is your “traditional” one but see I don’t like that word “traditional” because how many haunted houses are truly haunted? Not only haunted but have had many ghost hunters investigate the Abbey and have seen a lot of very scary things in the basement! So lets take all of the crazy ghosts and add a haunted house to it. Every year our haunted house keeps getting better, and better!!! So picture this you are standing in line in a dark hall (same hall that,well… never mind). You’re in the basement waiting for your turn to enter in to the asylum. The Nurse comes and gets you to check you in. Then the security guard comes and gets you from the nurse and walks you through the sally port into the asylum. From there, you’re on your own good luck!!!|