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World’s Smallest Escape Room is a Claustrophobic Coffin Nightmare

Do you love escape rooms, but hate being alive? Are you a Vampire trying to spice up date night? Are you just really, really bored? If so, “Catalepsy,” the world’s smallest escape room, might be the place for you.

By Odd News Show Staff · March 7, 2024

Get Buried Alive in the Latest Iteration of Escape Rooms

Barcelona’s Horror Box offers a mortuary-themed experience where participants solve puzzles inside coffins. For some it plays on the 19th-century fear known as taphophobia, for others it’s just what they think happens when we die, but for Catalepsy’s paying customers, it’s an immersive encounter blending history, technology, and the eventual realization that it has absolutely nothing to do with cats.

If you don’t count poorly guarded prisons, escape rooms have only been a global phenomenon since 2007, constantly reinventing themselves to captivate participants and enrich their therapists with new and innovative concepts. Horror Box - not to be confused with the failed nineteenth-century feminine products manufacturer, is a Barcelona-based entertainment company that has introduced Catalepsy, the world’s smallest escape room, or, if you’re an optimist, the most puzzle-friendly coffin.

Catalepsy delivers a mortuary-themed experience that is not for the faint-hearted. Named after a medical condition (again, not a feline one) often mistaken for death,  Catalepsy plunges participants into a heart-pounding 30-minute challenge of freeing themselves from inside a coffin.

Done in the less traditional coffin escape method of doing puzzles and having a coffin buddy, Catalepsy is designed for two players who must collaboratively solve intricate puzzles with a partner confined in a neighboring casket, communicating solely via strategically placed loudspeakers that ironically are the same brand of speakers we had installed in my grandma’s coffin.

Aurora Alvarino,  the gamemaster (her coworkers do call her the Crypt Keeper behind her back) oversees the ordeal, not unlike some sort of pervert, through CCTV cameras. She describes escape rooms as “a gym for the mind,” pushing participants to broaden their mental boundaries in this macabre setting, and leveling the playing field for those who don’t also attend, “a gym for the body.”

Catalepsy draws inspiration from the 19th-century fear of being buried alive (as opposed to the 20th century when it was just a thing), known as taphophobia, as explored in Edgar Allan Poe’s short story “The Premature Burial,” later adapted into a film in 1962, and then later into a euphemism for the shame that immediately follows a man’s overexuberance in the bedroom. Players can personalize several aspects when  booking their tickets, including selecting the type of casket or even choosing a virtual  “cremation” complete with simulated flames, artificial smoke, and sideways glances  from religious older relatives 

This extreme escape room experience aims to recreate a situation that, as Alvarino  (who may not fully understand how a funeral works) puts it, “sooner or later we’ll all  experience: your own funeral.”

Like my guillotine-inspired cheese grater, this immersive encounter promises a blend of historical inspiration and cutting-edge technology,  lingering long after the coffin lid is opened, the puzzles are solved, and the weeks of nightmares have slowed. 

The reviews from participants speak volumes about the impact of Catalepsy. One  individual shared, “It’s a must! I really recommend it,” as her boyfriend muttered, “for someone you hate.”

As the smallest escape room in the city - the escape from the mausoleum is technically bigger, it’s making a big impact on those who dare to take on the challenge, providing an adventure like no other and solidifying its place as a must-visit attraction for thrill seekers - especially the ones who like to take their thrills laying down.