Secret Cinema Presents 28 Days Later
Written by Becky Roberts
Whether you like your zombies George Romero-slow or Dan O’Bannon-fast, there’s no denying that Danny Boyle’s post-apocalyptic horror 28 Days Later breathed new life into the zombie movie – yes, it is a zombie movie – which, at the turn of the century, looked to be as dead and shuffling as the walkers themselves.
So when Secret Cinema revealed that the 2002 cult classic would be the company’s next project – its first crack at the horror genre, no less – I was there quicker than you could say ‘brains’.
[For the uninitiated, Secret Cinema productions are unique cinematic experiences on steroids: all-encompassing, costume-incorporating, themed fun and interactive film-watching. In other words, a movie-lover’s wet dream. With over 45 productions under its belt, it’s tackled everything from Casablanca to The Empire Strikes Back to The Shawshank Redemption.]
So you’ve paid up, signed up and shown up. The spiel: you’re a survivor of the widespread Rage virus, dressed in scrubs and looking considerably less cool than Rick Grimes and Michonne, and your mission is to stay that way for the next four hours. It’s down to the NSH staff at St. Thomas Center for Disease Control and Prevention to vaccinate you against infection, and all you have to do is have fun run.
After following (emailed) directions from the not-so-deserted London tube to the secret location, wondering along the way whether the big BHS store that you pass has been cleverly (or more, conveniently) repurposed as an NHS get-up, only to then realise the play-on-words acronym is actually NSH, you arrive at a big warehouse (sorry, hospital) where fellow anxious-looking ‘survivors’ are traipsing through the gates.
Phones off, masks on, and you’re ushered through into a room that makes you feel like a World War Two evacuee. The ‘doctor’ comes in, you drink your vial of antidote, and it’s showtime, folks...
Without giving too much away, the first hour is a race (literally) through studiously designed cityscapes, houses and bunkers. You know, like in the film – only this time you get a well-deserved sit-down afterwards with the opportunity to re-fuel (and spend more money doing so, of course).
The dedicated am-dram actors are nothing if not enthusiastic, but don’t expect niceties; they have no problem taking out the frustrations of their 9-5 day job by shouting at you to put on your mask on, listen up, or run faster (don’t take it to heart, they’re just trying to save your life).
Scare factor: 6/10. If you’re one to jump at a crisp packet popping, make that an 8, but ultimately it’s more about adrenalin-pumping thrills than soil-yourself scares.
The production is elaborate, the intricate staging genius, and the organisation comprehensive. And when, two hours after your arrival, you finally lie down (that’s as spoilery as I’ll get) to watch the film, you realise that every part of Jim’s experience has been personified throughout the evening. And that your £65 entrance fee (or £55 for the weekend matinees) has been well spent – by you and Secret Cinema.
Yes, with the fare, costume, food and drink, it’s an expensive night out – even for London standards. But if you have the cash to splurge, it’s a no-brainer.
Secret Cinema’s 28 Days Later runs through until 29th May, and you can book tickets here: http://www.secretcinema.org/tickets/28dayslater