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Review: Secret Cinema Presents 28 Days Later

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Richard Cosgrove pulls on his scrubs and joins Secret Cinema for the end of the world as we know it...

When Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later came out back in 2002 it redefined the zombie genre, not least because to purists it wasn't actually a zombie movie per se, rather a movie about Rage infected living people who wanted to take out all that not so pent up aggression on the nearest human being. Whichever refugee camp you sat in, however, there was no denying that while it wore it's influences proudly on its sleeve – from Day of the Triffids to Dawn of the Dead – it was an effective horror movie that has stood the test of time, spawning a worthwhile, if underrated, sequel in 28 Weeks Later and a superb, if little known, comic book series that filled in the gaps between the two films.

Twenty-eight half years later, 28 Days Later has similarly redefined the phenomenon that is Secret Cinema, as they take the plunge and venture into horror territory for the first time with their unique brand of immersive entertainment. Having been something of a cult for a number of years, Secret Cinema really hit the mainstream in 2014 with their hugely ambitious production of Back to the Future which, despite a few initial hiccups, was universally praised. Last year they followed it up with a second large scale endeavour in the form of The Empire Strikes Back which was equally well received and cemented their reputation as being purveyors of the ultimate cinema experience.

Their current production of 28 Days Later is something a little different, though, as while the previous two extravaganzas were more of an open world sandbox for patrons to experience and explore at their own pace, this is a more linear experience, following the events of the film while also managing to build on the mythology by giving fans of the movie the opportunity to experience what might have happened in those crucial 28 days before bicycle courier Jim woke up alone in his hospital bed to discover the end of the world as we knew it.

Given the nature of Secret Cinema's productions – the clue is in their name – it's something of a challenge to write about the experience without giving any of it away, because if you're one of the thousands that will be attending between now and the end of May, then the joy is in discovering it all for yourself. That said, it's fair to say that if you're familiar with the film then you will absolutely adore the set pieces that they've recreated from it, as well as the journey of getting from effectively day one of the outbreak as you enter the secret East London location to the eventual screening of the film.

What I can tell you is that the experience is exhilarating, physical and while not terrifying, will certainly get the adrenaline pumping and put a smile on your face. No expense has been spared in recreating the end of the world, and the manner in which the film is screened is both unexpected and jaw-droppingly brilliant. I wish I could tell you more, but that would deny you the pleasure of the various reveals and surprises.

There have been criticisms that the experience makes for a somewhat expensive evening out, but when you consider that the price of the ticket is no more (and in some cases quite a bit less) than you'd pay to see a top band at the O2 Arena (or a Premiership football match for that matter), and that the food and drink is broadly comparable to any central London venue, the fact that you're taking part in a fully immersive work of theatre and then watching the film in circumstances and surroundings that are truly unique mean that you'll look back on this as money well spent.

If you're a fan of Danny Boyle's modern horror masterpiece, then the Secret Cinema 28 Days Later experience is essential. If you have never seen the film, but love haunted houses and horror movies, then the same applies. This was my first Secret Cinema experience, but having survived it I can say without any hesitation that it won't be my last.

Secret Cinema presents 28 Days Later is running until 29th May 2016. Tickets are available here.

5 stars


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