Quietus Horror – Sommeil – March 2022

Way back in Halloween 2020, Quietus Horror, started teasing something new on social media. Obviously due to COVID this new show, Sommeil, didn’t manage to materialise for quite some time. A very limited run for local participants took place in September 2021, but it wasn’t until March 2022 that a longer run was able to take place. That said this was very limited only for around 15 guests each for their own one hour-ish solo performance.

I put my name down for a show pretty much as soon as dates were announced in December 2021, purely specifying preferred dates over the three-night run of the performance. Quietus is based in Leuven, Belgium, an easy train ride or drive from Brussels airport. Other guests that were also taking part came from different parts of Europe and as far afield as the USA. After getting a confirmed show a few more details came from Quietus over the next few months, including the comprehensive waiver and details for paying the 90 Euros for the show.

Image courtesy of Quietus Horror

Before the show I received a few correspondences from Quietus, firstly that we should be wearing clothing suitable for sleeping in. Fitting given the title. Much closer we were sent very detailed instructions for where we were to be picked up and the manner in which we had to be there. This only helped build the tension and anticipation before the event. Personally, I felt that this was really effective in building up the fear factor. I was dwelling on what I already knew I needed to do just to get to and start the show. This was compounded when, on arrival to my hotel, I had an envelope with items and final instructions waiting for me. Another superb touch.

Not going into spoilers or giving a blow-by-blow account of all the scenes within the show is difficult. It is worth stating that everything that was in the waiver happened at some point in the show. Each element will challenge different people in different ways, but as with their previous show, Overture, I felt that this was nicely tailored to the individual in terms of the intensity. Elements in the show were nicely varied as well. I had to experience things I’ve never experienced before, some less enjoyable than others. That said it’s understandable if some elements may break immersion for some based on personal preferences.

One of the elements that Quietus does incredibly well is in putting on a superbly immersive show. While this was much more on the extreme side of events, this wasn’t a show just for the sake of endurance. There is a superbly compelling narrative that ties into all of the more extreme parts of the show.

Speaking of the narrative there are trigger warnings about it, so whilst sleep is the initial element of this, ultimately this is a tale about suicide. For a show to tackle such a sensitive subject and be able to deliver it with so much genuine tact was superb. Actors portrayed the differing elements of someone suffering suicidal ideation superbly. The sense of suffering was wrought well within the narrative and ultimately the feeling of release and comfort towards the end was incredibly soothing. A delicate subject that was handled brilliantly within the context of an ‘extreme’ immersive horror event transcended the mere scary / painful elements into a hugely emotional experience.

Image courtesy of Quietus Horror

This emotional aspect combined with the taxing physical and mental ones really set Sommeil apart for me. The actors all did a superb job balancing the extreme elements with a massive sense of trust. At no point did I feel concerned about the trust side of the extreme elements. The amount of care despite the parts that were meant to be endured was clear throughout, which also tied nicely into the story. The story also included elements that harked back to previous shows so if you had experienced previous Quietus shows these provided a fun call-back. As a very minor tweak it would have been great if this scene fit a bit more smoothly with the other scenes narratively and if there was more signposting around what needed to be done for me.

Very, very minor quibbles aside, I was thoroughly impressed with Sommeil, and Quietus Horror for what they’d put together for this event. As mentioned previously the way that the more extreme elements fit within the narrative was superb and worked incredibly well for me, turning the show into a well-crafted individual experience. The space that was used for the performance worked brilliantly with the lighting and effects in use. In addition to this the music, including live performances and sounds that were used throughout were stunning and very effective. To have someone playing a composition live on their violin towards the denouement was honestly staggering and such a massive element that could so easily be missed in the circumstances.

I can’t recommend Quietus Horror enough for the superbly emotional show that I experienced. Obviously, this isn’t a mass market event and given the more extreme elements it is clearly not for everyone. But for those interested in trying something like this then it would be a great introduction to extreme immersive horror. I sincerely hope that Quietus returns and I’m able to attend as I feel that the type of show they produce has such a great combination of extreme elements and narrative that transcends it to a fitting piece of art, that I as an individual and many others wish we had much more of.

Hauntingly beautiful

Image courtesy of Quietus Horror
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