Reel Unknown – Reviewed

Rachael Jones heads down to China Town for a bit of Reel Unknown fun – just don’t expect them, or her, to squeal…

We’ve always been well jel of London’s Secret Cinema events, so the news Liverpool was getting one was beyond exciting for us. Running in to the big day we were tossed a few bones via Facebook, Twitter and a cryptic email, but all we knew for sure was where we had to be and when.

Here’s what happened…

We arrived at the Chinese Arch around 7:40. Luckily, our group was pretty easy to find; a whole bunch of people wearing aviator shades (Clearly we missed the memo on that one!). After milling around for a few minutes we were silenced by an abrasive ‘prison guard’ and walked down to our secret venue. But this was no ordinary walk…

On the way we saw a guy apprehended by another dude. We weren’t sure whether they were actors at first but in retrospect the fact that the aggressor was wearing a white tuxedo kinda gave it away.

When we hit Wolstenholme Sqaure we were greeted by a ‘lady of the night’ in fishnet stockings and not much else. A prostitute on Wolstenholme Square – who’d’a thunk it?

Guessed where we’re going yet? We had. It’s the Kazimier…surprise!

We were then lined up against the wall and treated to a rather good recreation of a scene from the movie (we knew what it was but to keep up the suspense we’re not going to tell you). And in we go…straight into another queue. After having our fingerprints and a mugshot taken we’re left free to explore; the Reel Unknown folks had transformed the main floor of the bar into a living embodiment of what we were about to see.

There were actors all over the place, playing characters and acting out scenes from the mystery movie (our suspicions of which were definitely confirmed by some of the set dressing. We’re just too clever for our own good!). All the guys were great – there was no distracting them from their roles. And the lady with the hula hoop had SKILLS.

Up onto the balcony (via the bar for a sneaky Peroni, natch) and we’re in Las Vegas. Card tables, croupiers, showgirls…this is a fully kitted-out Kazimier.

Once we’ve fully explored, we stand for a parade of convicts – one of whom is wearing a rather uncomfortable-looking mask, so kudos to him – and treated to another scene recreation. Then it’s time for the reveal…Welcome to Con Air, folks.

When we first figured out what the movie we’d be seeing was, we have to admit we were a bit miffed. Surely Reel Unknown was for cult movies, ones people might not have seen? But it soon became apparent why – it’s just such good fun!

This is certainly a new way of seeing a movie at the cinema. Being immersed in the movie’s world prior to seeing it added a new dimension to proceedings, and Nicolas Cage’s dodgy one-liners were just that much funnier. But by far the most impressive thing, for us at least, was that this event happened at all.

It’s nice to see young Liverpool folks – in this case a group of LIPA students – getting their thinking caps on and doing something completely different. In the wake of venue closures and a general feeling that creativity is being stifled, it’s great that new things are still popping up and the city continues to flex its artistic muscle.

Post-credits, we asked the founders of Reel Unknown why they’d chosen the movie they did. How do you go about narrowing something like that down? They responded that you could do a lot aesthetically with a prison movie, and Con Air is way more fun than Shawshank (had it been that, we’d have needed a ‘bring Kleenex’ warning beforehand for sure!).

Bearing that in mind, perhaps a Farmageddon-style horror movie for the next runout? We’d totes be up for that.

Rachael Jones

Posted on 18/03/2012 by thedoublenegative