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Tuesday, 13 September 2016

LIFESTYLE | My hair-raising experience with Secret Cinema

I've mentioned a few times before about my first experience with Secret Cinema but unfortunately could not go into too much detail as the event was still running and I did not want to let out any secrets.

Secret Cinema still relies on the theme of secrets - some events are still entirely secret so you don't know what film you are seeing until arrival, and most of the build up to events are kept hush hush. Attendees get a password and that's about it - what happens on the night is usually kept secret so future visitors get the full experience.

However, unfortunately 28 Days Later with Secret Cinema is long over now but it does mean I can talk about the event in a bit more detail!

And what a better excuse to do so than with an entry into The Harley Street Hair Clinic's current competition for bloggers to win an experience day out by writing about a hair-raising experience!

Well, my Secret Cinema event was definitely a hair-raising experience and perhaps one of the scariest things I've ever done.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experience
Credit: Secret Cinema/Mike Massaro

The general premise was that we - all us attendees - had to go to a hospital/base for a vaccine/vaccination because our vulnerability of getting the infection (aka getting turned into zombies) was pretty damn high. 

Please note, this was a good few months ago now so some things might not be exactly right - I will try my best though!

So I donned my scrubs and headed for the secret London based location.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experience

In the ten minutes or so that I walked from the train station towards the venue, with every second that passed, I felt more and more emerged into the world already. There were many of us dressed in scrubs and herding through the streets and, soon enough, a lady with a clipboard and already in character checked who we were and sent us on our way.

Once we arrived, we lined up outside the hospital with army men barking orders at us to stay in line, put our phones away etc. Above, an emergency broadcast droned on about the virus and ways to keep safe. 

In short, we were in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and it bloody well felt like it.

I was in line for ten minutes before I heard distant shouts and calls. Already I felt my heart speed up - even though I knew the zombie apocalypse wasn't actually upon us, I didn't know how much was real and how much wasn't. I'd never been to a Secret Cinema event before so I had no idea what to expect.

Then, three zombies sprinted around a corner and towards us, violent and growling, blood dripping from their mouths. We screamed and jumped back in fear and sensed the urgency in the army men's orders to stand with our backs against the walls. They fought them off - but just about. 

Next we were ushered into the hospital and split up into smaller groups where we were told about what we were doing there and why. Here, we had our medical cards checked and some of us that looked vulnerable were studied in more detail to see whether our pupils had dilated and such.

The atmosphere here was fab - there were army and medical types rushing around, TV's blaring out facts and figures about the virus and personnel coming up to us in character.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experience
Credit: Secret Cinema/Mike Massaro

All this was just the build up however because next we were taken to another room where we were given the vaccine, followed by the room where we learned more about the infection. This was great - we had to lie down on hospital beds and watch and listen to what was showing overhead - images of the infection around the world.

Soon the room plunged into darkness and we had no idea what was going on - perhaps this was just after care for the vaccine? A quiet few minutes to wait for it to take hold?

Then - footsteps and a distant call of hello.

From the centre of the room, a man was running along a metal walkway and down the steps towards us. It turns out, we had been asleep for ten or so years and the vaccine we had taken wasn't a vaccine at all. The zombies were coming and we had to run - now. 

We stumbled up and followed him and then the chase began. We ran through dimly lit corridors, zombie growls either side. We paused in a junkyard to hear about the man that had saved us and what had now happened to the world. But every time we paused for breath, the infected found us.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experience
 Credit: Secret Cinema/Marianne Chua

Now, I knew it wasn't real. Of course I did. But that's very easy to forget when your amidst it all, with zombies trying to grab you either side from the dark, with screams of everyone around you and pounding footsteps as you try to outrun what is sure to kill you.

It was very scary and very realistic and basically the closest I've ever come to a zombie apocalypse. I can't explain how it felt so real even though I knew it wasn't.

At one point we were sprinting up the stairs - out of breath, of course - and I looked down and saw something lying at the bottom of the stairs. I looked closer, wondering what it was, only for it to groan and reach for me and then I realized what an idiot I was being.

Of course it was a zombie!

I screamed SO loud!

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experienceCredit: Secret Cinema/Mike Massaro

One of the worst parts was running through the dark corridor with cars and scrap metal abandoned either side of us - we had to avoid these and at any given moment, anything could have jumped out at us. I wouldn't have felt brave walking through there in broad daylight, let alone with the risk of a zombie jumping out and attacking me.

We paused, at moments (and to catch our breath) to hear a priest preaching, to see a wall covered with flyer's for loved ones (where we were encouraged to add our own. I wish I did!) and to Frank and Hannah's apartment - complete with the twinkling lights.

This part was fun and like walking right onto the film set. It was a complete re-creation of their flat and here we paused for a good ten minutes or so to hear Hannah talking about where her dad had gone. We felt like part of the film, but I was too scared to even sit down at first as I was convinced something would get me.

This led to more running and finally - safety. Well at least as much safety that could be provided. We were in the army's ranks. The girls and boys were separated and we were invited to one of the soldiers quarters where he talked about how we would make good mothers to re-populate the world, ha!

Then we had our own free will to explore. We explored the armys' ranks, poking around at maps and survival plans. We stumbled across other survivors, taking part in press-up games. At one point we were told to find a character, and were paraded around the area, following the soldier in search of said character.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experience
Credit: Secret Cinema/Mike Massaro

This part was quite fun because we could do what we wanted - whether that was sit down for a drink, chat with others or continue the story.

We had a lot of fun with one zombie who promised to cure us by putting blood on our cheeks (don't ask me why we were silly enough to believe this) who then cornered us and we had to be rescued!

Every so often a siren would sound, requiring us to drop to our knees in safety.

Admittedly, this part went on a bit because we weren't really sure what we were supposed to be doing but after an hour or so, the lights dimmed and fear prickled through me once more.

However there was nothing to fear because it was a zombie rave! This part was so much fun and many of the zombies performed on a raised platform - they were quite good dancers actually!

I wish I'd had a drink and was a bit tipsy for this because I did very much want to dance.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experience
Credit: Secret Cinema/Hanson Leatherby

Finally it came to the viewing of the movie and I can hands down say that it was the most unique way I've ever watched a movie - on a hospital stretcher, dressed in scrubs, in a giant warehouse and watching screens suspended from the ceiling - although some action took place around the room too.

It was quite chilly here but I couldn't complain - that was the point really and it just added to the atmosphere.

It felt so real that after the movie, one of the weirdest things was heading back outside into sunlight and back into the normal world.

Formidable Joy | Formidable Joy Blog | Secret Cinema | 28 Days Later | Zombies | Hair raising experience

As I said before, I can't quite explain how the experience felt so real despite the fact that deep down I knew it wasn't. I guess during the moment I just forgot this. I truly felt like I was in the middle of a zombie apocalypse and in danger.

In fact, putting myself in that situation has helped greatly with writing my novel.

I'll never forget the feeling of running through the dark corridors with zombies chasing me. I'd never screamed so loud or ran so fast - it was so realistic (and cool!) and something I'll definitely take away with me.

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  1. When I started reading this post I thought you were just going to watch a film! This sounds amazing and extremely scary! x

    1. Yeah that's that I love about it! It's never 'just' a film haha! x

  2. I want to go to secret cinema so bad I say it every year and never end up going. I need to change this!

    1. I was the same and it doesn't help that none of my friends can really justify paying that much money for something they don't like just so I have someone to go with so I just went alone & loved it! x

  3. Gosh what an experience - this sounds terrifying! I've never heard of this before and I'm sure it's great fun.

    1. Not many people have! It's worth experiencing - they do different movies, this was actually their first scary one so they're not all scary! They did an amazing one for Back To The Future a few years back x

  4. Comfortable, light weight and durable scrubs. No wrinkles right out of the dryer and no shrinkage. I'd buy more figs scrubs for men from this company again.


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