Goonies never say die!

Rachael Jones ventures into the night for her second bite of the Reel Unknown experience…

We’re going to start this review with a bold statement: we are, to quote Daphne Moon, ‘a little bit psychic’. But more on that later.

Naturally, within five minutes of us leaving the house it’s bucketing down with rain (it goes without saying that we’ve not brought an umbrella.) When we eventually arrive at the Metropolitan Cathedral and join the other drowned rats sheltering in a doorway, we’re met by someone much braver than we could ever be in such hideous weather; a girl wearing leggings and a bomber jacket. Never mind an umbrella, commitment to the acting craft means she doesn’t even have a hood.

We’d already been informed via email that the premise of tonight’s cinematic extravaganza was a ‘block party’, at a place called the Goondocks and our guide maintains this pretext as we set off on what turns out to be a rather lengthy walk (a low point, as it’s still raining). Along the route, as with our previous Reel Unknown outing back in March, we run into other groups of actors performing scenes and offering live-action clues as to what movie it is we’re off to see.

Back to us being psychic for a second. When we spoke to the brains behind Reel Unknown a few weeks back, the only clue they were prepared to reveal about the venue was that it was ‘perfect’. About three minutes later, during one of our many tangents we asked them about the potential of using the Williamson Tunnels. And guess where we ended up?

What is surprising about this turn of events is that we actually walk through the tunnels before sitting down to watch the film. And we walk through them in the dark. With booby traps.

It’s worth taking a moment here to applaud what has clearly been a productive collaboration between the organisers of tonight and the Tunnels. Not only are we walking through in the dark and after hours, but the set dressing is nothing short of phenomenal. The whole place is decked out with pirate paraphernalia, treasure maps, suspicious-looking dummies and cobwebs; we’re actually amazed at how good it looks.

“The whole place is decked out with pirate paraphernalia, treasure maps, suspicious-looking dummies and cobwebs”

Our actress guide keeps her character up right through the tunnels and down into the visitors centre proper (with only one slight lapse in her faux American accent) before disappearing into a crowd of similarly Lycra-and-legwarmer clad compadres, several of whom attempt to get us on an exercise bike.

Our general aversion to audience participation leads us to decline both this and hula-hooping, although we do spend five enjoyable minutes watching a group of girls attempt the ‘stand on a log and rearrange yourselves in height order’ game. The attention to detail is such that a loop of 1980s TV commercials and music videos plays in the background.

We can go no further without revealing the title of tonight’s film, which we’d figured out some weeks before after a particularly obscure clue that played right into our endless knowledge of useless trivia. It’s The Goonies, that classic of 1985 adventure movies.

The first major scene performed involves bad guys the Fratellis, chasing our heroes all over. Most people have already given up on the activities in favour of finding a good seat by this point; the setup of the venue means more than half the audience now have their backs to what’s going on, which is somewhat of a shame.

Our commitment to reviewing things properly means we take the opposite approach; checking the scene out as it was intended before taking a seat near the back and settling in for When Sloth Met Chunk.

Unfortunately, the problem with this scene is the fact we simply can’t see what’s going on. Not only is the action at the end of a tunnel, but there’s no light and the actors simply disappear in front of the projector screen.

It’s been a good while since we arrived at the venue and it’s clear some people are more than keen to just watch the film already, but there’s one more thing to be done before they get their wish. Led by the actors playing the Goonies, the entire audience chants the Goonie pledge. Hands over hearts and everything.

There’s not much point doing an in-depth review of the film itself, as everyone we know has seen it and it is essentially secondary to the Reel Unknown experience as a whole. All we’ll say is this; The Goonies is a genuinely enjoyable movie. And we love Josh Brolin.

We have to say we’re looking forward to watching where Reel Unknown goes over the next few months; its founders are certainly ambitious, and if this event is anything to go by they’re getting more adept at pulling off events that offer Liverpool’s cinemagoers something a little different. The key will be keeping the audience engaged for longer periods of time, and not letting them sit down halfway through. Thumb tacks on seats, perhaps?

Almost two hours later we’re done, and it’s rounds of applause all round before we head off on a longish walk back to town. Fortunately, it’s at least stopped raining.

Rachael Jones

The next Reel Unknown event hits Liverpool December 2012

Posted on 19/10/2012 by thedoublenegative