Desiree Nicks went to the cinema for the thrill of the scary movie on screen but the real nightmare was scurrying under her seat.
Part-way through a showing of Halloween at Galaxy Cinemas in Sherwood Park Mall earlier this month, Nicks felt a sharp pain on the back of her leg.
“I was like, ‘Ow something just bit me,'” Nicks said in a recent interview. “I flashed my light and it was a massive bite. And there was blood gushing. It was just disgusting. There was pus. It was not good.”
Using the light from her phone, she searched under the seats for the culprit — mice, three of them, stared back at her.
She gathered her things and as she was leaving the theatre, she saw a fourth rodent bouncing up the stairs.
“I was like: that’s it — we’re out of here,” said Nicks.
She brought the incident to the attention of a manager, who helped clean her wound. On advice from a nurse, she went to the emergency room where a doctor treated her and prescribed a seven-day regimen of antibiotics.
It wasn’t the first time mice had made an appearance at the theatre. In April, Melissa Hinse was leaving the same theatre when she heard a child shout that she had seen a mouse.
“So I go down probably one or two steps and there’s a half-dead mouse just lying on the steps and I’m like — are you kidding me right now?” she said.
Hinse, who says she has an “irrational fear of mice,” turned and ran.
To make matters worse, Hinse said both she and her son discovered sticky mouse traps, called glue boards, attached to their shoes.
Hinse was offered a couple of free movie passes. Nicks said she was never offered anything.
Cineplex, which owns Galaxy Cinemas in Sherwood Park, said it is aware of a concern by a guest at the theatre.
“As you can imagine, we take matters like this very seriously so upon learning of the guest’s concern, we immediately engaged a third-party expert to arrange for an inspection,” said spokesperson Sarah Van Lange in an emailed statement last week.
“While no activity was found at that time, in an abundance of caution we have taken additional steps to address the matter as well as arrange over and above follow-up inspections this week and next.”
Alberta Health Services said it received a complaint Nov. 8 about a mouse at Galaxy Cinemas in Sherwood Park and it received a complaint in April about a dead mouse in the theatre. AHS investigated both incidents. It didn’t find any mice or uncover pest control problems in either case.
According to Tom Schultz, who owns Edmonton Exterminators, just because mice aren’t visible doesn’t mean they aren’t there. They tend to live in the walls, out of sight and only come out in the open when it’s dark — like during a movie.
“When you have that many people sitting there, there’s always that possibility because there is still enough light in there, that you will see movement on the floor,” said Schultz. “Now, when you take that same theatre and you empty everybody out of there and you turn the lights on, all of a sudden the mice aren’t anywhere to be found.”
While AHS didn’t find any mice, Hinse and Nicks said they will not be going back to the Sherwood Park theatre anytime soon.
Hinse said she still goes to the cinema at South Common but her movie-watching experience just isn’t the same.
“I will take my flashlight to where I’m sitting, I will look underneath my seat to see if there are any mouse traps underneath my seat and my children’s seats,” she said. “I haven’t seen anything in South Common, thankfully, but if I found any signs of any mice I would be out of there within a heartbeat.”