Derren Brown is Britain’s most famous illusionist known for pulling off incredible and almost unbelievable stunts. He played Russian Roulette with a real loaded gun on live television, he predicted the results of the national lottery live and even manipulated a group of people into robbing a security van through suggestion and association alone! Recently, in one of his most ambitious stunts to date, Brown convinced an ordinary member of the public that the apocalypse had hit the earth, leading them to believe it was the end of the world and that zombies had taken over the country. For the chosen subject, Steven, a man who admitted he felt stuck in a rut and he was openly lazy, this stunt became a chance to appreciate the value of his life. Derren Brown literally altered Steven’s world to become an apocalyptic zombie wasteland; Steven had to use his initiative and previously unacknowledged abilities to get through the ordeal and “survive.”
The process by which Steven was convinced that he was living in the ends of days was complex and intensive. Derren Brown hacked into Steven’s phone, took over his favourite radio station and even edited his favourite websites to broadcast fake stories about a meteorite shower due to hit the earth. Steven’s family knew about the plan and played along throughout. At the end of this planting process, Steven was taken to a staged secret gig in the woods where Brown arranged for debris from a fake meteorite shower to hit the ground ahead. After this, Brown but Steven into a hypnotic state. Steven then awoke in a strange hospital bed in a gown, and soon found himself isolated and surrounded by blood-soaked zombies.
The action was set in a specially created compound and Steven sincerely believed that the meteorite shower had hit the earth and that any survivors had fled to areas of the country not inhabited by zombies. He met a range of actors along the way, posing as other refugees, who played different roles to force Steven to take initiative and gain more confidence. Most of the action in Apocalypse looked like it had come straight out of a Hollywood movie, with hundreds of zombies dressed in ragged clothes hammering on the outside of the compound trying to break in and letting out howling screams. Being infected by a zombie was portrayed as a serious danger, with the actors wearing different tags to show whether they were infected or not. Steven was forced to take charge of the group of survivors after their current leader chose to join his infected wife outside of the compound in one of the most dramatic scenes.
At the end of the stunt, hoards of zombies had managed broken into the compound and Steven had to make it safely to the rescue helicopter with one of the survivors, an actor playing a young, abandoned girl. It was at this point that Steven showed how much personal development he had been through and bravely distracted the zombies to try and get the girl to safety.
On waking up in his own bed after being hypnotised by Derren Brown once again, it was clear that Steven had become a different person after experiencing the zombie apocalypse and saw greater meaning in his life. Steven proved that he could survive the zombie apocalypse and shows that in end of days scenarios, other people probably could rise to the challenge too!
Derren Brown’s apocalypse stunt was one of his most ambitious and shows how far he has come from his early days when he did much smaller scale illusions and casino tricks. He actually managed to create an entire new world for one man. But the techniques Derren Brown uses are always consistent and are a mixture of suggestion, hypnosis and misdirection. Due to this, Brown is now banned from most casinos in the country. This was a result of Derren’s early career, when he’d use his methods to win money (and held a 100% success rate). In addition, in 2009 Derren hosted a show called “how to take down a casino”. The show saw Derren attempt to beat the roulette wheel using £5,000 of a member of the public’s own money. Sadly, this stunt failed with Derren placing the bet on black 8, when the winning number was the adjacent red 30, but no doubt the near accuracy had casinos across Europe worried! (Don’t worry, the TV show kindly paid £5,000 back to Derren’s accomplice.)
If you fancy trying to learn Derren Brown’s amazing techniques, you’ll need to start by studying NLP, studying behaviour patterns and develop the ability to influence other people’s decision-making processes. From there you might wish to move onto the casino to test your new skills, just like Derren did. It may seem like a long way from staging your own apocalypse, but with real casino excitement at your fingertips, you’ll be able to hone your own abilities and learn the games and their processes before setting foot in a real casino.
If you’re in the UK, you can watch Derren Brown Apocalypse and How to Take Down a Casino on Channel 4’s 4OD here.