Bristol Review – Igfest – 2.8 Hours Later. The Zombie Apocalypse is here.

Urgh…Arghhh…etc.

Who hasn’t had a conversation about what they would do in a Zombie apocalypse?

I may have had this conversation more than most because, as you will probably know if you have ever read this blog, I am slightly horror film obsessed. Ever since I watched A Nightmare on Elm Street when I was about eight years old (and only because I was told not to) I just love horror – books, films, poems, whatever the medium, just anything slightly macabre!

However, what I learned at the weekend is that, when faced with an actual Zombie apocalypse (OK, not ‘actual’ but as close as I assume I’ll ever see) is that I have a penchant for identifying the exits, then running in a mad panic into the nearest corner for no discernable reason.

The zombie apocalypse of which I speak is the almighty Igfest – 2.8 Hours Later And although I may be more obsessed than the average wannabe zombie hunter, that also means that I had very high expectations which could easily have been dashed by a lack (even a small, perceived lack) of adherence to and respect for the genre…but I tell you, fellow fans of the undead, I was not disappointed.

The whole thing kicked off at St. Nicholas Market in the dead of night (8pm to be precise) with a quite necessary warning given the very large group of hyped up, cammo clad zombie killers, that this was, despite our excitement, a game.

A warning not to punch the Zombies in the face, and to remember that pedestrians/passing busses did not give a shit if you we’re running for your lives from an army of flesh devouring creatures.They would indeed still get angry/run you over respectively.

And after that, the game commenced. We were equipped with reflective arm-bands (even zombies need a little help recognizing who to, and who not to chew) and a map of Bristol, on which were written the coordinates for our adventure. In teams we were given the first coordinate and sent out, expectant and anxious into the night.

The whole purpose of the evening was to reach the designated coordinate, find the slightly mauled and slightly mad survivors within and get the next coordinate, leading eventually to the zombie disco (once you had passed through quarantine of course). The venue was not specified – simply reach the coordinate on the map, and work it out, avoiding those lurking inside, as well as in hidden corners on the way.

And that was the best thing about the whole experience – these guys knew their zombie hideouts. They knew that we knew. And they picked places that would scare the crap out of you whether you had watched numerous zombie flicks or not, but if you had, there were so many nods to so many fantastically horrible memories of films, games and stories, that there was no way of avoiding the adrenaline kick as soon as you entered the game.

The venues consisted of abandoned warehouses, disused banks and office buildings, and dark tunnels as well as the undead lurking outside shopping malls and behind pillars in the streets. Various bedraggled, blood stained and withdrawn strangers warned us (and yes, in parts of Bristol on a Friday night, it was difficult to spot them, which added to the suspense, on our part as well as on the part of numerous confused non participants I assume) and advised us about where to go – but we didn’t know whether to trust them.

A vicar lured us past photos of the missing and presumed dead pinned to a church notice board, past darkened pews and to an eerily lit altar before lunging at us only restricted by his chains. This sent us running into the graveyard to find our next destination, in the dark, through the trees, looking over our shoulders and trying to follow the map.

The abandoned office and prison building were so like scenes from Resident Evil (the game that is, and I add, much more eerie than the settings in the film) that there was a beautiful mix of fear and nostalgia that made me feel like a kid being warned not to watch something again, and one who will obviously disobey and sneak off to watch anyway, only to find themselves satisfyingly and expectedly unable to sleep.

And that was the great thing about it – the whole thing was so recognizable – you knew what was coming, which only added to the suspense. You were ready to run, and run you did. And I mean really run, over most of Bristol. We ended up at the zombie disco – right out by Feeder Road, through the dark tunnels and to an old pub opposite a warehouse aptly named ‘Limbs and Things’ – which I don’t think was in fact part of Igfest, and which sold, I can only guess, either something to do with Coppicing, or Prosthetics.

I thought about looking it up, but decided it’s probably more fun in my imagination.

And that was the best thing about the whole event. Your own daft, easily triggered imagination. Igfest was organized brilliantly, and for anyone with a sense of gory fun, who enjoys being scared, it’s definitely worth the stinging lungs and aching legs.

And when you reach the end, it’s actually more fun if they send you through quarantine and you find you’ve been bitten. The zombie make up tent en route to the party gives you chance to sit down and change character before exiting as the walking dead to enjoy a sinful, and well deserved bloody cocktail.

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