Little house of horror: Alberta artist creates tiny replica of 'It' house

When Lance Cardinal saw the spooky estate in the blood-chilling remake of Stephen King’s It, he couldn't help but bring it to life.

'It's an escape for anyone who will look at this model, and for me'

Calling Lake artist Lance Cardinal spent two months building an exact replica of the haunted estate from Stephen King's It. (Lance Cardinal)

When Lance Cardinal saw the spooky estate in the blood-chilling remake of Stephen King's It, he couldn't help but bring it to life.

The northern Alberta artist spent hundreds of hours over two months building a perfect model replica of the Neibolt House. 

King's most notorious haunted estate is a key location in both the book and the films.

It is abandoned and creepy from the outside, and filled with endless horrors on the inside — thanks to the homicidal clown that lurks within.

The smaller version is its own little house of horrors, said Cardinal.

"It's an old Victorian home with turrets and old, broken-down windows and doors, and siding that's decrepit and old and falling apart," Cardinal said in an interview with CBC Radio's Edmonton AM.

"It's kind of like that old house on the street that everyone knows about, that has been abandoned for many years and is the eyesore of the neighbourhood."
The tiny house of horrors was made from scrap materials like old pizza boxes and plastic house plants. (Lance Cardinal)
Cardinal said the haunted estate is already a pop culture icon, and he wanted to pay homage to the film.   

Cardinal hopes his smaller version still has the same big scare factor for die-hard horror fans.

"I think there is a lot of investment that people put into pop culture icons of this kind," said Cardinal, a member of the Bigstone Cree Nation in Calling Lake.

"I love pop culture myself so I like to capture these things that evoke memories or instill a feeling that someone felt when they watched the film."

Cardinal, a professional set designer, actor, and producer is creative director of the Calling Lake Arts Academy, a performing arts academy for Indigenous youth.
Cardinal, a professional set designer was inspired to build the replica after watching the 2017 remake. (Lance Cardinal)
He spent most of his spare time this fall working on the model, sourcing scrap materials from wherever he could find them.

Cardinal built the entire home from scratch, based on photographs from the set, which was built specifically for the film in Oshawa, Ontario,

He ended up using everything from Styrofoam to scraps, as materials.

The grass was made from the bristles of a $3-dollar broom. The sunflowers that dot the rotting front yard were made with paper, wire and an old plastic house plant. The shingles were made with painted card stock. The siding was made from old pizza boxes.
The lawn was made from broom bristles. The flowers were crafted from old plastic house plants. (Lance Cardinal)
 The end result is 46 inches wide, 30 inches deep and 30 inches high and includes a light-up interior and a full front yard and fences, as seen in the film.

Cardinal said he's heard accolades from the film crew, and received a message of thanks from the owner of the property where the set was constructed.

It's not the first time one of Cardinal's tiny masterpieces has earned a nod from Hollywood. In 2009, when photographs of his replica of the Muppet Theatre were shared online, they went viral and eventually caught the attention of the Jim Henson Company.

Within a few weeks, Cardinal received a personal letter of thanks from the Henson family.  

Cardinal began creating miniatures 35 years ago, in Grade 2 — and it remains one his favourite creative escapes.

"For me, creating something in replica or in miniature, especially down to every single detail, it's an escape for anyone who will look at this model, and for me myself to escape my own reality.

"This is kind of my passion."

Listen to Edmonton AM with host Mark Connolly, weekday mornings at CBC Radio One, 93.9 FM in Edmonton. Follow the morning crew on Twitter @EdmAMCBC.