The fear of being buried alive and trapped in a coffin haunted writer Edgar Allan Poe’s characters.
It has now inspired what is billed as the world’s smallest escape room – a mortuary-themed experience not suitable for claustrophobes.
The live-action puzzle game developed by Spanish company Horror Box in Barcelona is called “Catalepsy”, a reference to a medical condition easily mistakable for death.
Participants have 30 minutes to free themselves from inside a coffin by solving puzzles through teamwork with their partner in a neighbouring casket, communicating via loudspeakers.
They are monitored over CCTV cameras by gamemaster Aurora Alvarino, who defined escape rooms as “a gym for the mind”.
She said the attraction aimed to recreate “a situation that sooner or later we’ll all experience: your own funeral”.
Miriam Castella, a 22-year-old actress selected by the company to demonstrate the game, acknowledged she felt “a little bit scared” after the coffin’s lid closed.
Her partner in the demonstration, 39-year-old dancer Carlos Granedo, said he had taken part in about 15 escape rooms before but described this experience as unique.
While booking their tickets, players can customise several aspects, including the type of casket or whether they want to be “cremated” in a blaze of virtual flames and artificial smoke.
“Catalepsy” draws inspiration from the fear of being buried alive – or taphophobia – that was widespread during the 19th century, as reflected in Poe’s short story “The Premature Burial”, which was adapted into film in 1962.