It’s late night on Friday 13th September in a deserted part of a venue in Leuven, Belgium and I’m stood with my back to a door with my belongings in a bag in my hand. I’m about to experience my first solo ‘extreme’ immersive horror event, Overture by Quietus Horror, and I’m about as nervous as I’ve ever felt. The anticipation of what I’m about to experience has been building up over the past few weeks.
During the Summer I’ve been enthusiastically finding out as much as I can about the varied scare events in the UK and occasionally slightly further afield. This led to me discovering Quietus Horror and that they had a very limited run of their latest event, Overture. My only background reading before this were reviews of their previous solo event, Facsimile and their collaboration with Faceless Ventures, Intérieur.
Whilst already sold out when I first got in touch with them, ‘luckily’ for me someone dropped out pretty quickly and I got my place subject to signing the waiver and payment of 45 Euros. The waiver makes it very clear on what ‘extreme’ experiences may occur during the performance and all of them happened to me. I’ve been through variations of many of them previously in the only Halloween event I managed to do last year, so whilst not necessarily looking forward to these elements, I felt comfortable-ish that I could endure without having to use the safe word.
Overture is ostensibly about a pianist / composer who wants their audience to understand what it means to compose a piece of music and the emotions and feelings that this particular tortured individual endures to create their art. The suitably minimalist posts on Instagram help to heighten the sense of mystery and anticipation of the unknown before the event, never quite knowing what is going to happen or how exactly you are going to experience it.
This narrative was well wrought throughout the 45 – 60 minutes of the experience. It really helped to provide some context between the ‘extreme’ scenes and managed to wrap the whole event up in a semi-plausible way that made sense with regard to the individual scenes.
Music and sound understandably play a huge part of this experience and having the compositions played live in the presence of the main composer antagonist massively helped in the sense of immersion that I got from this event. For me, this combined with the narrative elevated the event from a mere series of scenes to be endured to something that is understandable within the broader story so there’s a reason for the ‘extreme’ experiences. As a newbie this helped me through of the more challenging parts as I was keen to truly understand the composer and complete their tale.
Throughout the event I unsurprisingly went through a whole barrage of emotions. The sense of dread and anticipation of something bad happening were palpable throughout. I did manage to do a scared laugh a couple of times, so it wasn’t all hyper-realistic serious and I was blind-sided a couple of times when something completely unexpected happened. I was physically and mentally challenged, but I felt safe at all times and I sensed that at parts the actors picked up on my feelings of discomfort and could ‘dial’ it back a notch so that the experience remained challenging, but not too challenging so that I’d feel like safe wording or that it was not challenging enough. Could be wrong on that, but something I felt at the time.
Obviously a huge thanks to the actors and the Quietus Horror team for putting on a compelling, challenging and safe event. The main actors were excellent and played their parts well helping me to become immersed in the composer’s world. The venue and setting were well implemented with good lighting effects throughout in addition to the superb audio.
After the final thought-provoking and challenging scene I was led back to my much needed bag of belongings and left in the hallway on the other side of the door that I entered in to about an hour earlier. The fairly unceremonious ending would be my only criticism of the event. For me it felt like there was a not enough pay off with the ending and that it was a bit flat. A mini-epilogue of sorts might help participants at the end, myself definitely.
Overall I ‘enjoyed’ and really appreciated the passion and effort that went in to Overture, though enjoyed is never quite the right term for ‘extreme’ experiences. Personally I’ll definitely be keeping an eye on Quietus Horror and will hopefully be able to experience their future work. For those that enjoy the more ‘extreme’ end of the spectrum, I would wholeheartedly recommend Quietus Horror.
Would I recommend it wholesale? It’s definitely not for everyone as most people think I’m crazy doing these ‘extreme’ events. That said they do have a niche market, but I feel that this market is growing, and frequently I find that these more ‘extreme’ and intense events are sold out quickly. I’m know there are many people that would like to try something like this, but for numerous reasons don’t get the opportunity to do so. Even so these type of events are clearly a labour of love for their creators and I, as an enthusiast, hope to ‘enjoy/endure’ more.
Quietus Horror performed Overture on 23rd March and on 13th and 14th September 2019. Follow them on Instagram for future news and events.