We sent our journalist into Danny Boyle’s apocalypse, here’s his blood splattered report…
Have you ever wanted to exist within the world of a motion picture? The James Bond movies, perhaps, where all the women are beautiful and there are no detrimental side-effects to drinking or smoking? How about Star Wars, where most people are basically noble, and good always wins in the end? Perhaps you’d like to frolic around the lush alien rainforests of Avatar. None of those? How about 28 days later…, where hope is a relic of the past, running and screaming are day-to-day life, and Chris Eccleston seems like a goody until he orders his men to rape you? Well, you deviant psychopath you, as it happens you’re in luck, as with Secret Cinema’s new 28 Days Later… you can jump right into that world, constantly harangued by stern medical staff and even sterner soldiers as you interact with the world of the movie, before receiving a bit of a break to eat, drink, and be merry, and finally bunking down to watch the film itself.
Taking place in St. Thomas’ Hospital in Canada Water, the event boasts an extremely impressive setting: massive sections of the hospital have been entirely remodelled, and the look and feel perfectly captures the haunting production design of the film; it is a world in which brief, incongruous flashes of humanity peek through the urban-industrial nightmare, impressing on us all exactly what it is we have lost. It’s not a world I’d like to visit but, paradoxically, my biggest problem with the event was an inability to interact much with the world Secret Cinema have put such commendable effort into recreating. From start to end of the supposedly interactive event we are essentially shepherded through a series of corridors by a guide, who admonishes us not to go ahead of her and neither to fall behind. The result is that it feels more like a ghost train ride, or an on-rails shooter game, than something that quite captures what’s so haunting about, say, those moments when Jim wanders a deserted Central London. The unsettling quality of those images comes not merely from their unfamiliarity but also the realisation that, free to do whatever he pleases, with no authorities to stop him, Jim is paradoxically less free than ever. With no social context, his actions have little meaning. Likewise some moments of similar aimlessness would go far in capturing the ennui as well as the terror of Boyle’s vision of Apocalypse. Had there been a risk of guests becoming infected, as in some interactive zombie games that have been staged, all the better.
Still, those sections were exhilarating, helped along by actors very dedicated to not breaking character, and hordes of Ragers presumably played by stuntmen. A long wait in a sort of reception area, with burgers and drinks available, broke the immersion a bit, as I found myself heading outside for a smoke and a long conversation with a friend. We talked about horror movies, made jokes, and thoroughly remembered that we weren’t one of a small group of desperate survivors, but a couple of journalists attending a film event. There then followed an utterly incongruous rave (featuring songs that didn’t even exist in 2002, when the film came out!), and by the time we were ready to watch the film, my spirits were utterly deflated when, had the screening come much earlier in the evening, it would have been a thrill. As it stands, the film portion of the event is very well-done too, with a well-realised setting, a sort of overture of Apocalyptic footage coming before the film, and actors bursting in at certain points during the movie, extending its action. The night was, on the whole, entertaining and, since all I had to pay for was a set of medical scrubs that weren’t actually as necessary as I was led to believe, and a couple of drinks (though two drinks were generously included with entry), I can’t complain. Entry, however, is £65, and at that price, it’s hard to recommend especially when the scrubs Secret Cinema recommends cost an additional £20, and most of the audience are unlikely to have scrubs of their own just lying around.
Are you excited by the thought of Secret Cinema tackling the horror genre or terrified of the ticket prices? Whatever your thoughts let us know in the comment box below!