The knives are out for Secret Cinema, they have been for a while now. The increasingly popular immersive film experience has enjoyed a rapid growth that has seen it evolve from being spoken about in hushed conversations on Facebook to blanket coverage and advertisements in every form of media.

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Having recently tackled Hollywood heavyweights Back to the Future and Empire Strikes Back, the latest film selected for the Secret Cinema treatment is at least something of a throwback to the ‘cult’ origins some fans have yearned for.

28 Days Later, the zombie/infection survival thriller from Danny Boyle, has a London setting and plenty of scope for interactivity. The secret location of the film screening isn’t really a secret any more, but some of the frights and chills on offer are.

The real thing I wondered when exiting the tube station somewhere in East London prior to the event on a rainy Friday night was ‘who is writing about Secret Cinema?’

I’m here as a reviewer, its what I do, but i’ve seen fan reviews of the event too. These arguably give you the best overview of what to expect, and certainly are hard to fault in terms of giving a genuine overview of the event itself.

However i’ve also read “reviews” from professional cynics. I wonder why you would send along someone intent on finding fault with such an event. It might make for hilarious blog posts buts does it really get into the spirit of the event? Can you really enjoy yourself in such an environment if you’re taking notes and coming up with wise-cracks for a deadline-beating article set to go viral the morning after?

The fact is the Secret Cinema isn’t for critics or populist bloggers. If you’re going there for the sole purpose of reporting it back to others, you’re doing it wrong.

I was tempted to write this review as just that, a review of the film and event as I have done countless times before… but that would be missing the point. I took my critic hat off and left it behind as I put on the requisite scrubs before entering the quarantine zone.

Secret Cinema is expensive, there’s no getting around that. You’ll spend a lot on the tickets, more on the costumes and potentially much more than that on food and drink. Beforehand we were warned to get the medical scrubs required for entry via email, so its surprising to hear people say they were taken unawares by the strict door policy of no outfit, no entry.

Do you really want to rock up to a fancy dress party in your day clothes though?

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That said, its never been compulsory and some flexibility should be on offer. The scrubs are also there for your benefit, which you’ll find out for yourself once you are inside. We saw people in all manner of costumes, so its a fair assumption that you don’t need to buy the exact ones that are promoted to gain entry. Get creative and you’ll be fine.

We’ll avoid the details of what happens inside, as mentioned before this really isn’t the sort of event that needs reviewing. There are clever set-ups, inventive interactivity and the best viewing experience of a film we can remember when the time finally arrives to watch 28 Days Later.

The lead up to this is genuinely a lot of fun, and offers a smart use of the space in which the event takes place.

There’s something to be said for not doing a “hot take” for every single thing that people want to go out and enjoy for themselves. Secret Cinema is most definitely one of those things.

Just lie back and enjoy the show.

Secret Cinema: 28 Days Later runs from April 14 – May 29

Tickets and information:

  • rachel h

    I really wish I had made it to ‘Back to the Future’ last year as it is one of my favourite films. I’m not a fan of ’28 Days Later’ so I will give it a miss myself but for those who like it the experience of the secret cinema will be amazing.