Underground corn mazes and walls that grab: The Soap Factory Haunted Basement


The Soap Factory gallery is very industrial-looking; in fact, it used to actually be a soap factory. Once again this year, in the gallery’s 100-year-old basement filled with soap vats and old elevator shafts, there is a haunted house. This is the scariest haunted spot in the Twin Cities, so bring someone you can grab on to.

The Haunted Basement is open nightly from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. through November 2 at the Soap Factory, 518 2nd St. S.E., Minneapolis. 18 and older; children 13 and older must be accompanied by an adult. For tickets ($15) and information, see soapfactory.org.

The first thing you do is sign a waiver, which ups the spooky factor right away. Then you wander around the gallery for a bit, and the art is just strange. In the middle of one space is a group of fans positioned in a circle blowing a piece of tumbleweed. There is a long, narrow room with televisions lining the walls on white pedestals; all the TVs are turned on and each screen has a person speaking, but all you hear is a chaotic hum. Another room has pieces of wood in box frames, another has a bed with a patchwork quilt on it, and yet another has a woman jumping up into a blank screen screaming “I hate you” and other nonsensical rants.

Finally, it’s time to go down to the haunted house. You go down in a small group of about 4-5 people. There is no guide; instead, you follow a lighted path at your own pace. If it gets too overwhelming, the safe word is “uncle”; just say it to a ghoul and you will be escorted out safely.

I went to the preview night with my friend Katie, and we tried to pry information from the lady who had us sign waivers, but all she would say was that it’s very disorientating. The haunted basement had an artistic tint to it. There was the usual screaming person or monster trapped behind bars, and the ghostly creatures that appear in rooms and follow you, but there was also an element of sensory overload. Rooms that spin, trails that are encased in darkness, flashes of distracting light, walls that try to grab you, and, back by popular demand from last year, the corn room. I would call that particular room a corn maze, because I lost everyone in our group. Finally comes the end, with an arrow pointing up out of the depths, and it’s a relief.

Afterwards we had a chance to talk briefly with some of the designers. They were very excited about this year’s haunted house since it was full of new ideas, and were just working out the last-minute kinks. They’d been up until 4:00 a.m. the previous night perfecting the terror. They did a great job, because the Soap Factory Haunted Basement is definitely a perfect terror.

Melissa Slachetka is a freelance writer and photographer who lives in Minneapolis and contributes regularly to the Daily Planet.

Also in the Daily Planet, read Jay Gabler on the Soap Factory.