Canada: Ottawa woman says lines were crossed at Montreal horror installation - - PressFrom - Canada
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Canada Ottawa woman says lines were crossed at Montreal horror installation

01:30  19 october  2019
01:30  19 october  2019 Source:   ottawacitizen.com

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a person standing in front of a mirror posing for the camera: An Ottawa woman says lines were crossed at the Malefycia horror installation in Montreal. © Wayne Cuddington An Ottawa woman says lines were crossed at the Malefycia horror installation in Montreal.

An acclaimed “immersive” theatrical horror installation in Montreal turned into a real life horror show for an Ottawa couple after one of them ended up with a concussion, while the other alleges an actor grabbed her breasts.

The woman said she is a big fan of horror, Halloween and haunted houses. So when she and her partner visited Montreal last weekend, they bought tickets in advance to visit Malefycia, a horror experience set up temporarily in a former pharmacy on Ste-Catherine Street. The woman had been to a previous Malefycia installation a few years ago and thought it was well done.

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But she said she was shocked this year when an actor grabbed her breasts. She said she was also shoved hard into a confined space on top of another person. “I asked the actor to stop and said they were hurting me. They laughed, did not stop and shoved me harder. My partner had to intervene, telling the actor they were being too rough, and to leave me alone.”

The woman filed a police report after the incident. This newspaper is not naming her because of the sexual assault allegations. The woman said her partner also received a head injury when a prop beam fell on his head. He was taken to the Notre Dame Hospital emergency room in Montreal and has since sought medical advice for a concussion.

“People have a fascination with darker things. This is not my first horror rodeo,” the woman said. “Even in horror, there are lines that should not be crossed.”

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Malefycia, now in its fifth edition, is unique in its genre and has been an undisputed success, selling out in October each year, a spokesman for the event said. Actors working at the installation have extensive training and contractual limitations on their interactions with the audience. However, it remains an immersive spectacle “where this interaction with people is necessary,” Laurent Blouin, Les Productions Malefycia vice-president, said in a statement.

“Malefycia is an immersive, anxious experience that plunges you into troubling and horrifying scenarios,” he said. “Malefycia is not a haunted house, the realism of immersion can be beyond your expectations.”

However, the allegations the woman brought to this newspaper were “a unique case” and false, Blouin said. The object that fell on the man’s head was part of the set, he said. He said Maleficyia secured the problematic prop and made a general re-verification of the entire event. Moreover, Montreal building inspectors and the police performed verifications in connection with the event and did not report any security risk, Blouin said.

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“It is expected that the viewer will be upset and this is precisely why customers come back every year. The immersive journey is presented by very professional actors, with strict instructions and protocols. Entrances and exits are monitored by facial recognition, fingerprints, and dozens of cameras monitor all the places at all times,” he said, adding that elements of the show had been approved by police, fire and other municipal authorities for occupation permits, exits, capacity and liquor licenses.

Blouin said Malefycia requested updates from the woman and her partner, but neither raised any issues.

a car parked on a city street:  Malefycia is housed in a former pharmacy at 1366 Ste. Catherine St East in Montreal.© Dave-Sidaway Malefycia is housed in a former pharmacy at 1366 Ste. Catherine St East in Montreal.

The woman said when she and her partner told the staff about the head injury, the staff didn’t stop additional participants from entering.

Malefycia participants must be over 18. They must sign a waiver, which says, in French, that participants take part at their own risk and are in good physical and mental health. People susceptible to epileptic seizures, heart ailments or claustrophobia are not allowed in the installation.

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The waiver adds that the theatrical experience is “anxiogenic” — provoking anxiety — and some behaviours of Malefycia actors may make participants feel uncomfortable. The experience is not appropriate for sensitive people, Blouin said.

The woman said she resented the suggestion that she was “sensitive.”

“Even the most frightening ‘immersive horror’ experience should not include concussion, a trip to the emergency department and sexual assault. That is way too far,” she said.

The woman said staff at Malfycia called a car to take her and her partner to the emergency room. But Blouin, who said a Malefycia vice-president drove the couple, questioned why she and her partner remained at the installation for more than an hour after the partner was struck.

The woman said her partner didn’t immediately realize the full extent of his head injury.

“That’s typical of head trauma. When people are under stress and experience trauma, they are not at their peak cognitive performance,” she said. “Most people trying to process shock try to go through the motions.”

The woman said she filed police reports with Montreal and Ottawa police and has been disappointed by their responses.

The woman said she tried contacting the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal on Sunday, but said it was difficult to contact an officer who could take the complaint by phone. She left a voicemail and made a report online, but there has been no follow up.

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She had to return to Ottawa for work and tried to call again, but said a Montreal police officer told her the only way she can report the incident was by dialling 911, or driving back to Montreal and presenting herself with identification at a police station.

Reluctantly, she phoned 911 in Ottawa and left a message with the sexual assault unit. She sent a full account to the sexual assault unit on Monday. The only police response she has had so far is a call from an Ottawa victim services social worker.

In response to a request for information from this newspaper, Montreal police said they could not comment, citing confidentiality, but said a victim with a sexual assault complaint can go to a police station in Ottawa to file a report, which would be sent to Montreal.

“Please note that when a person is a victim of sexual assault, they should call 911 as soon as possible,” Montreal police said in response to questions from this newspaper.

The city of Montreal said when Ville-Marie borough receives a complaint about a building, an inspector is dispatched to carry out the proper verifications. “In the case of the building located at 1366 Sainte-Catherine Est, the borough has received no justified complaint,” she said.

The woman said she has also called the City of Montreal and the Montreal fire department and says she’s not giving up.

“I want to warn people so no one else gets hurt.”

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