Have you ever gone to sit down and watch a film but been vaccinated, sprayed with blood and chased by infected humans first? Neither had I until I attended a very special version of Danny Boyle’s 2002 hit film 28 Days Later.
Secret Cinema is a unique and immersive cinematic experience that truly brings to life some of our favourite films. By using actors and epic sets to recreate scenes from these movies, you’re taken on your very own journey through the cinematic, and in my case post-apocalyptic world, before settling down to watch the original blockbuster.
As the clock struck six, I made my way over to St Thomas’ Hospital, Canada Water where I was greeted by two or three NSH staff accompanying me to get my bag and possessions searched before entering such an infested area. After my bags had been searched and deemed safe enough to enter the area, I was shown where to purchase my necessary scrubs (yes these are necessary – you are not allowed in unless you are donning the hospital attire. The idea is to bring your own but they sell them at the door!) when out of the blue came an infected human running towards our group! Luckily a swarm of soldiers were on hand to take him down, and after the soldiers had secured the area, it was safe to move again, and we were taken to the hospital where we waited to get our vaccination.
Walking into the hospital was a bit of an anxious affair. Having just seen what we were up against with the infected humans it was a relief to be shown to the various tents where we were given a safety talk and briefing by the on-hand Doctor. Once the briefing had finished, we were advised to move along to the pharmacy where we were encouraged to buy drinks that had been sanitised with alcohol for either Â£6 for a vodka based cocktail or Â£2 for a shot of a sanitised life-saver. Drinks finished, we wandered through to our final meeting place with another Doctor, who was there to give us our last dose of medicine before being shown to our hospital beds to await our vaccination. Or so we thought…
Overall I had a brilliant time with Secret Cinema but here are some pointers that I feel will help you get the most out of the event:
There is no doubt that it’s a brilliant experience, but I would say that it’s a great experience if you’re planning to go with either a plus one or a large group. I was on my own, and I always feel with these type of events that it’s quite difficult to get into it if you are on your own. However, everyone in my group was very friendly and because of the nature of the event we all ended up working as a team anyway.
I would recommend going all out and bringing along everything you are told to bring as it helps build the atmosphere and makes the event even more immersive.
Make sure you bring your bank card with you! The NSH staff were quick to point out that none of the pharmacies or military bars take cash, so it is vital that you bring your card, otherwise, you won’t be able to buy your food or drink your vodka – I mean, medicine. Food and drink was around the Â£6-8 mark, so once you’ve factored in your Scrubs and replenishments on top of your tickets at Â£64.50 per person, the price can start to really add up.
If you’re a huge cinema fan and think this is right up your street then click here to find out more information. Not too much, though, it is a secret event after all.
If you’re a bit gutted you couldn’t make it to the 28 Days Later event, find out more about the production with this release wrap, detailing everything about the event with a more in-depth look:
Secret Cinema presented #DONTWAKEUP, an experience inspired by Danny Boyle’s cult horror 28 Days Later in the former Harmsworth Quays printworks which served as St. Thomasâ€™ Hospital Rage Treatment Unit for 2 months in April and May. Here, a post-apocalyptic London was brought to life for 48 shows, re-creating key sets and moments from Jimâ€™s journey through the abandoned city in the vast building complex.
28 Days Later
The epic production included a 1.5-mile parkour run through the building previously used for Secret Cinemaâ€™s productions of Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Dr. Strangelove, where a cast of over 35 actors and stunt men/women kept audiences on their toes in petrifying turns. Over the course of the last 2 months, 686 audience groups took part, running – and screaming – for their lives. Luckily, all patients made it to the safe zone in time for a zombie rave, featuring tracks from Zombie Nation, Michael Jackson and DJ Shadow, played by a host of DJs, including original UK techno pioneer Kirk DeGiorgio. The soundtrack for the experience was specially commissioned from composer by Danny Nolan and is available for purchase now.
In a Secret Cinema first, audiences watched the film lying down in a vast ward of â€œhospital bedsâ€, with the film projected onto 12 specially commissioned screens hanging from the ceiling. Now that the production has ended, the beds and cushions from the screening room will be donated to Crisis. Secret Cinemaâ€™s ground-breaking new entertainment format brought 28 Days Later back into the top 10 charts of the UK box office in April and May, 14 years after it premiered in national theatres.
The Build Up
With the horror unfolding in real-time, a dedicated NSH website, with patient chatrooms and Rage Testing allowed patients to register for their vaccination appointment at St. Thomasâ€™ while RBC News, a news station broadcasting from St. Thomasâ€™ Hospital, provided daily coverage of the epidemic. 20,000 patients registered on the NSH page in the space of 2 months, attempting to keep Rage from spreading. If you have not been tested yet, you can do this here.
Through its productions, Secret Cinema seeks to explore political and cultural ideas. Continuing in the tradition of supporting charitable and social causes, including the Refugee Council with the Star Wars production and War Child with Dr. Strangelove, over 200 Junior Doctors and Nurses were invited to join the show in support of the #JustHealth campaign.
Founder Fabien Riggall says, â€˜Over the past year, we brought over 140,000 audience members to the Canada Water area and transformed an empty factory complex into three entirely different worlds for Star Wars, Dr. Strangelove and 28 Days Later â€“ a proud achievement for the company and a great motivation to continue exploring new forms of entertainment.â€™
Secret Cinema continues to support the Junior Doctorsâ€™ #JustHealth campaign. Please visit www.justiceforhealth.co.uk to find out more.
The soundtrack from Secret Cinema Presents 28 Days Later, can be purchased from the online store on: secretcinema.bleepstores.com