Zombies have never been so popular, with movies like World War Z and the successful television series The Walking Dead ensuring they are now part of the mainstream. Interactive theatre has also embraced the concept: witness the chase through the streets of London by ravenous zombies that was 2.8 hours later.
The latest addition is World War II Zombie Blitz, where Nazis combine with zombies in the haunting and atmospheric setting of the old rail tunnels under Waterloo station. The event begins outside, sipping on tea surrounded by newspapers and leaflets of the period. We’re then joined by our ‘guides’ for the evening, a prim and proper English couple and a brash American soldier already in character.
An air raid siren results in us all being ushered into a bunker. We shan’t give away much more of the plot from here, but what follows is a tense build up to all-out mayhem involving Nazis hamming it up, the shambling undead, gunfire and one particularly claustrophobic sequence.
The actors do a terrific job, the American soldier’s accent may be dire but he makes up for it with gusto and some brilliant tongue in cheek ad-libbing when participants mention anything that didn’t exist in 1940.
There is a good degree of audience participation, but if you want to hang back and just enjoy the scares, it never feels like you’re forced to take part in the hunt for clues and secret doorways.
Clever use of lighting ups the ante: seeing a zombie and then being plunged into darkness gets the adrenaline pumping as you wonder where she is. One minor downside is that there’s never really a sense of genuine threat and the unpredictability of the audience does result in some contrived situations that can be a little hard to stomach.
Overall, it’s a thrilling and enjoyable experience, and the only thing preventing us from wholeheartedly recommending it is the hefty £65 price tag. For a 40 minute experience that’s a lot of money to part with. A recently ended half price promotion had made the ticket price much more palatable.
World War II: Zombie Blitz is at The Vaults, Launcelot St, SE1 7AD until 20 October, Sundays only. Tickets are £65 per person.