Underground Cinema is more than just going to the movies – it’s a whole theatrical experience in a secret location, with a secret film revealed right at the end. It’s fun, novel and has developed a bit of a cult following since it first started in Melbourne in 2009.
I was invited to experience Underground Cinema‘s first show of 2013 which had a ‘Snow’ theme. As promised, it was their most interactive and immersive film screening to date. The amount of planning, organisation and dress rehearsals that must have gone into this production was astounding.
The first clue to the foreign/arthouse/horror film screening was an invitation to enrol into the UGC Swedish Forensic Academy. “You’ll need to have a keen eye for detail and a propensity to discover the truth. Temperatures are low and snow has been forecast as an entire town awaits the verdict, relying on all the help they can get.”
The dress code was “All in white, trousers and sensible shoes” and we were told to bring a pen, torch and camera. I managed to get two out of the three requirements in the dress code but come on, I’m Melburnian! My wardrobe is predominantly black and I literally own one white Tshirt in my wardrobe. Fortunately at this screening every non-white wearer was issued with a papery zip-up onesie and it proved to be an amusing and curiously cosy outfit for the evening (though a bit difficult for the bathroom!).
The secret venue was revealed a few days before the screening as Collingwood College. A high school? It still didn’t give me any sense of the identity of the film. However, the winding corridors, numerous rooms and school cinema proved to be a perfect location to hold a secret cinema screening.
Before we even got close to the cinema we were separated into groups and made to march in chain gang lines, undergo a psychological examination, a physical medical, listen to a lecture on forensic science, visit a crime scene and listen to a police interview. Everyone talked in fake Swedish accents.
All the shenanigans were very amusing and fun and went on for close to an hour, with a pit stop for a Rekorderlig cider along the way.
Then we were held in a ‘holding pen’ outside the cinema (with actors weaving themselves in and out of the crowd) for another hour, which was a quite boring even though there was bar service and some dodgy Swedish meatballs for snacks. We took a lot of selfies!
My friends who were in the later tranche said that they didn’t get through the entrance for 45 minutes, so it seemed like everyone had long period of waiting either at the start or finish. I hope that they iron out that issue next time because it was more than two hours from the entry time to the film screening, by which time I was very, very sleepy.
As for the film? I had my bets on the original version of Girl with a Dragon Tattoo but it was Let The Right One In, a very dark vampire film from Sweden. As I watched the film all the ‘clues’ we’d experienced before the screening all came together – cleverly done, Underground Cinema!