Friday, November 1st 2013. The dead have taken Leicester. They’re everywhere. On the streets, in the car parks, in pubs and abandoned buildings. It seems like wherever we go on this rainy, windswept November evening, we are hounded by the undead.
But let’s back up a bit. At 8:30 our party of three was arriving at a secret location in the centre of Leicester to be briefed on the end of the world. Our mission was to form up with a group of seven stranger, and make our way across Leicester to the safe zone. Along the way we would encounter zombies in a variety of terrifying scenarios. We had no idea what the night held other than quite a lot of rain. It turns out we should have included running and screaming.
The evening, which played out over around four hours, took us from one end of Leicester centre to the other, covering a range of landmarks from the university to the guild hall, various car parks and abandoned buildings. During the course of the night our party bonded, as we developed strategies to avoid the hordes of undead ahead of us. Sometimes we would have to sprint past fast moving zombies, sometimes creep silently past - and literally over - dormant zombies in pitch black buildings.
Four hours later we arrived at the safe zone. Not all of our party had survived the night and some had fallen foul of the infection spreading through the city. Still, zombies are people too, right? So that didn’t prevent us from enjoying a companionable pint and burger with our now undead companions once we reached the safe zone.
Zombie Earth: Apocalypse, from the fine folks at Requiem Live, was a two night live action zombie experience. The zombies, of course, weren’t real but rather actors in makeup and prosthetics. The locations were real Leicester buildings, appropriated by the team and dressed for the event. But the fear, as ridiculous as it sounds, was very real. Every rational fiber of your being should be capable of telling you that these people aren’t actually zombies. That this isn’t real. And you’re conscious of that fact when you’re not running, or creeping, or trying to guess if that guy in the distance is dead or just has a limp. But that doesn’t make the instinctive flight reaction any less real. When you hear the distant screams of the undead, or when something shambles into the dark spaces behind you with a groan, that primitive part of your psyche reacts and is afraid.
That’s what makes this event so special. The team - both organisers and actors - are so talented, and have put so much care and effort into the experience, that the final effect is gloriously entertaining. It’s absolutely a real life horror movie where you’re the star.
I applaud Requiem Live and their undead team for making November the 1st a truly memorable night for us. And I urge you - if you love being scared, and aren’t averse to being chased by hungry zombies - to seek them out, and get yourself booked onto their next event.