Could you be persuaded to commit murder? Are you fully in control of your own actions? How do you know you aren’t being manipulated into acts you wouldn’t normally do?
These three questions are the main focus of Derren Brown’s latest one off special, on Channel 4, Pushed to the Edge.
Now we’re all pretty used to Brown’s dark sense of mischief by now, but his latest show is a new high for the performer. After all, it takes some serious skills to transform an unsuspecting member of the public into a murder in just one night.
Considering this is a Derren Brown show, you can rest assured that there’s some smart back-story to the entire premise. Sure enough, the leading participant has been coerced into working at a charity auction, which is being run by some rather interesting characters.
Obviously, things don’t go quite as planned and after a supposed heart attack, and some seriously impressive special effects, things get pretty dark, pretty quickly. Everything goes from 0-10 in the space of a second, and Derren’s unknowing volunteer gets thrown into a web of lies, with only one way out… murder.
Everything starts out innocently enough, with the participant directed into seemingly minor pranks, but ultimately things get pretty nasty. It’s not long into the show where Chris, the victim of this situation, is dragging dead bodies around, stealing somebody’s identity and discussing murder. It’s all rather stomach wrenching and we aren’t afraid to admit we squirmed a more than a couple of times in the lead-up to the finale.
Once everything has reached boiling point, and Derren has suitably conditioned Chris to obey his orders, it’s time for one final push.
The final scene on the rooftop is really something to behold. Derren is well known for being a master of tension, but this is truly something else. In scenes reminiscent of Shia Labeouf’s infamous ‘JUST DO IT’ motivational speech, Chris is egged on by the cast to commit murder. Will he or won’t he?
After a flip of expectation there are some genuinely shocking results, which will leave you floored as you realize all is not as it seems. Once again Derren has pulled the rug out from underneath our feet and subverted expectations with the conclusion.
Honestly, this is one of Derren’s most powerful shows. It explores how far people can be manipulated using only words, and encourages people to make a stand, and be aware of how easy it is to coerce people into committing vile acts. Pushed to the Edge really does cement Derren as a true master of deception and trickery.
If you’ve enjoyed Derren Brown’s Pushed to the Edge, keep an eye out on May the 6th, when Thorpe Park opens Derren Brown’s Ghost Train. Get ready for your mind to be taken on a thrilling journey on an abandoned Victorian train carriage to your deepest fears.