Secret Cinema. Does it fall into the performing arts category? Should we be reviewing it? Of course we bloody should be. A Cinema theatre hybrid – it’s the greatest development in movies since the talkies! Our first experience with Secret Cinema was going to ‘The Lost Boys’ and we’ve been fans ever since. Nothing had topped that first insane sensory overload, until ’28 Days Later’. When we first saw the film, it blew us away for its style, music and Usain Bolt zombies. Secret Cinema did not disappoint us on putting their unique stamp on one of the UK’s best horror films.
Upon arrival at Canada Water, something was definitely afoot as hordes upon hordes of scrub wearing patients turned up and headed along to an old industrial site five minutes from the station. We were not among the hardcore (mugs) who chose to spend an extra £20 on special Secret Cinema scrubs, which certainly were not essential. The tickets are pricey enough.
We waited eagerly to enter the hospital facility to be checked for signs of the Rage virus. Someone told us to dispose of the rag we had hanging out of our pocket, that we had used to wipe up some zombie blood earlier. This was obviously not appropriate in a contamination zone… Once inside we talked to several doctors before heading in for our vaccination, a situation that was probably the most terrifying moment of the whole night. (No spoilers here!) What followed was an adrenalin fuelled immersion into the entire film featuring some tremendous set pieces and well performed vignettes from the movie. The energy and horror created by this experience had everyone sweating. One unlucky patron fell to the ground at one point. Once we had reached Frank and Hannah’s flat, it was clear she was in some distress, as someone in scrubs was helping her. As the medic turned around to ask if anyone was actually a real doctor we got a sight of a very real, very deep gash on the poor girl’s leg. She seemed like a nice girl, but as Selena said, with someone in that state, the concern is “whether they’re gonna slow you down”… She was left behind… as supper for the zombs…
After many scares and narrow escapes, we got through to the quarantine section, guarded heavily by soldiers. Here there were dressed rooms from the movie, and vendors selling food and drink that we drastically needed as the adrenaline rush of the previous section had created quite an appetite. The chilli we ordered was delicious, and there was no skimping on the sour cream, coriander and cheese.The vaccination cocktails, were, from our taster, weird, disgusting and moreish, but to help the swamped bar staff we opted for cold beers instead.
After dinner, it was suddenly obvious that we were no longer in a safe zone, as the space had become a full on zombie apocalyptic rave. From our vantage point we thought we had the drop on the zombies, but they climbed and clambered their way up to us, startling us in the process. Some clever lighting and special effects made this even more intense as the DJ dropped some classic tunes.
Finally we went into the last space, that had elements of the opening of our immersion, to experience Jim, Selena and Frank, smash their way through hordes of the undead, as Secret Cinema brought the film to life all around us. It was an evening of total immersive entertainment. The size of an operation like Secret Cinema truly baffles. They created a vast world with sound effects, lighting effects and live actors, coupled with an insane amount of related online narrative and banging grub to boot. The smoothness of their operation is truly remarkable. With all of this, one can understand the price of the ticket. No one else is doing cinema like this. You would be a fool to miss it.
Highlight of the Night – being sent through for our first vaccination and the zombie rave.