Why you should care
This terrifying theater experience is like being immersed in a horror film.
For hours after The Live Thriller ended, I was alive to every threat. Sitting in a Paris café with a glass of wine, people watching — a calm and time-honored activity — became murderer spotting. Every time a door slammed or a light flickered, I almost knocked over my glass.
Blame it on Paris’ most engaging, exciting, absolutely terrifying interactive theater experience. Though it will likely appeal to the adrenaline-chasing escape room crowd, this isn’t an escape room: It’s more like being inside a horror movie or video game, where your decisions and ability to connect the dots affect the story.
“It’s a human experience, that’s the difference between this and all the other experiences out there,” says Félix Carcone, one of the three founders of The Live Thriller. “It’s two and a half hours, so you have time to get into it and have fun, to experience everyone’s different reactions.” Friends for years, the three had no background in theater or writing but were inspired by ’90s thrillers like Se7en and graphic video games like Heavy Rain.
The piece, which is part immersive theater, part puzzle-solving and part scaring you out of your mind, took three and a half years to create and premiered in May. Within a month, it was the highest-rated Paris attraction in TripAdvisor’s fun and games category. Now it can be experienced in either English or French by groups of two to six people.
Participants are tasked with solving a ghostly mystery, which involves rushing between locations in the 18th arrondissement, chasing people and finding clues. The experience can take place during the day (which the website advises you do “if you are a little bit of a coward”) or at night. And while you’re running around being petrified in the creepiest of places, you’ll also bump into professional actors who play fellow detectives or suspects who will help or hinder your criminal investigation.
The Live Thriller’s ability to inspire absolute terror isn’t just about the specifics of the story, which won’t be revealed here. It’s in the details: Each location is set-dressed in every detail, no corner left unterrifying — the realism of the immersive experience can be quite disturbing — while a specially written soundtrack plays to keep you amped up and completely certain you’re on the verge of being murdered. Between fevered clue searching, the story is advanced by atmospheric expository videos that add an emotional dimension to the activities (and nervousness) you’re asked to partake in so that you can solve the story.
“If you don’t want to get into it, it doesn’t work well,” admits Carcone. “But that’s rare. Most of the time people play the game, they really play the game. They want to do it right.” There are four potential endings to the story, and choices you (sometimes unwittingly) make during the experience’s two-plus-hour running time will decide which one you end up seeing.
Once you’ve gone through the experience, you can go again — and tell the organizers you secretly want to be an accomplice, meaning you can freak out your friends even more effectively by working with the actors.
In January, Carcone says the company plans to premiere a new experience along the lines of The Live Thriller, but in a different and as yet unannounced genre. We’re hoping for rom-com or something slightly less stressful.
Bookings for The Live Thriller are made exclusively online — upcoming dates are available on the website. The experience is conducted in English or French. Prices depend on the size of your party: $54 (€49)/person for a group of six, $77 (€69)/person for a group of three. Participants must be at least 13 years old, accompanied by an adult, or a minimum of 18.