Having seen a taster of what Hide and Shriek are capable of with their I’Scream Factory scare maze event last year, I still wasn’t sure what to expect from Dead Centre. It turned out to be a lot more active, and a lot more thrilling, than I had initially anticipated.

One of the minds behind Hide and Shriek had said:

“After the huge success of the I’Scream Factory Scare Maze and the huge popularity in Zombies at present, filling a Shopping Centre full of Zombies seemed like the natural progression.”

The Dead Centre Zombie Survival Experience

Entering the Victoria Shopping Centre at 9pm via the Southend Victoria train station entrance, a small group of us (survivors of the zombie plague) were led to a dimly lit quarantine area for examination. The examination began with signing a liability waiver as well as answering some medical questions in regard to our blood type and how we would like to be treated should we become infected by a zombie. We then had some “blood drawn” and eye reactions tested with a torch to check for any signs of infection by a scientist, as military officers in hazmat suits paraded sinisterly up and down the premises. Just as soon as we had all checked out in the safe house as uninfected, one of the scientists turned and we were frantically escorted out of the safe house by a medic, who explained that he would lead our escape to the evacuation point.

Hide and Shriek: Dead Centre

We were led down through a maze of corridors in the basement, avoiding the zombie-populated areas of the shopping centre, with a goal of reaching the evacuation point at the top-level car park where we would be rescued by helicopter. At a couple of points, having to sprint past the zombies coming toward us in the loading bay car park. Luckily, amongst the boxes thrown out from the various shops’ basement stock rooms, we managed to scavenge a crate of water bottles to replenish our thirst. The amount of running we had done, and had left to do, this honestly felt like a life-saver.

(Who knew The Victoria Shopping Centre had 8 floors!)

Once we reached the highest floor of the car park, we had a chance to catch our breath beneath the glow of the full moon, as we laid out rags and bricks to signal the helicopter to land. Unfortunately, we were interrupted by a horde of zombies running up toward us from the car park beneath and we had to run to the other side of the car park to get access to the staircase down! (I was starting to wonder how this whole helicopter thing was going to work…)

Hide and Shriek: Dead Centre

Running back down the stairs and through the corridors, we got to an old theatre in the main shopping centre area and tried to escape through there. Wandering through the claustrophobic corridors in pitch black, with only a flickering light and a torch to guide our way, the paranoia grew as we discovered a secret laboratory where we could only assume that Patient Zero was first experimented upon. Or even created…

The lighting in parts of the mock theatre / laboratory was dizzying, producing a strobe light effect that made the whole situation feel eerily surreal. Finding no way out through the laboratory, we headed back into the main shopping centre area which has now become overrun by the zombie hordes.

The last terrifying escape involved running straight through the groups of zombies from the staircase by the escalators to the front entrance by the cinema. We managed to get through the main shopping centre full of zombies and escape through the front entrance, but not before seeing our trusted medic get dragged away kicking!

Hide and Shriek: Dead Centre

The whole experience is so immersive, half the time you’re running you’re tempted to trip over the person in front of you! You don’t have to outrun a zombie; you only need to outrun the people behind you! Your adrenaline is pumping so out of control, you’re quite literally willing to sacrifice a complete stranger in order to save yourself from being eaten! It’s incredible how “into it” you get once, despite knowing that of course none of it is real. There’s an incredible feeling of relief once the experience is over and you’re safe. It’s really unlike any other. The whole event just feels totally unique, and it’s no surprise that the two nights sold out so quickly, that Hide and Shriek had to add another due to the demand – which sold out just as quickly. So I would highly recommend that if you’re interested in their next event, you book early to save disappointment!

Coming soon…
The UK’s Largest Escape Room.

Oh, and in case of a real zombie apocalypse in Southend though,
we would suggest reading our Ultimate Southend Zombie Survival Guide!