Reel Unknown: a unique cinematic experience reviewed
Maybe a Spanish Dictionary will sort you out…”
“I like my glasses, they help me see,
Until they break and are useless to me.”
“What a good deed Ben and Jerry have done for society,
Thank you for ice cream, especially the,
Chunky monkey variety!”
These clues are the first things presented to you as a possible participant in the “hidden picture show experience” by Reel Unknown. After making the leap of faith and purchasing the tickets “in the dark”, not knowing the location or film to be shown, you’re sent an email illuminating these once “dark” details. Or so you’re told…
The email, titled ‘Astoria Quarterly Newsletter – September 1985′, is a few hundred or so words of nostalgia riddled clues obviously pointing towards the 80’s. So much so, you’re given the direction to come adorned in sports gear of the decade by the son of the newsletters author – Brandon. Another clue!
The kind soul that Brandon is, he warns you to wrap up warm, considering that instead of being told the location of the venue, you’re told to meet outside the Metropolitan Cathedral at 7pm. This is where you’ll be meeting members of the “Goon Docks Youth Club” and escorted to the main event. “Goon Docks Youth Club”, more clues…
If you hadn’t figured out the film and or theme of the evening by now, then you wouldn’t be to blame. Although after a succession of clues; protestors chanting “save our docks, save our homes”, a man sized child named Chunk accosting and forcing members of the group to do the “truffle shuffle” (a belly dance for the overweight) and coming across a treasure map leading to One-Eyed Willie’s treasure, it soon becomes evident the film to be screened is The Goonies.
For all those that had seen The Goonies in their childhood, the characters and sketches served as nuggets of nostalgia reminding them of why they loved the original. Whereas for the younger ‘Disney Pixar’ generation, the sketches seemed funny within themselves – slightly awkward, very surreal and so removed from the normal cinema experience.
At the same time as dealing with all this, you’re encouraged to play ice breaker games, inspired by moments from the film, with your fellow audience members. Add a licence to serve alcohol at reasonable prices and you have the perfect mix for a group of people in the mood for some good laughs.
The venue chosen to house this carnivalesque event was the Williamson’s Tunnels, and it seems like they’d be hard pushed to find somewhere better suited. The cavernous wet tunnels replicate those from the film perfectly and when you’re brought to the screening room, the low ceilings and small audience make the whole occasion much more intimate; possibly the key ingredient that the people at Reel Unknown believe to be missing from your typical evening out to the cinema.
Just before the film begins and people slowly filter into their seats, adverts from the era are projected onto the screen. Apparitions of “Cooking with Pam” and “Stay Free Maxi Pads” haunt the Williamson’s Tunnels (and the audience members on the more aged side), like the ghost of One-Eyed Willie himself.
So, the film begins. Not one of Steven Spielberg’s finest achievements (but how could it be in comparison to a back catalogue boasting so many films and numerous awards). This being said, it still has many of the things that make a brilliant Spielberg film. Think of it as Indiana Jones for children, now screened to adults.
It’s easy to see how The Goonies has achieved the cult status that surrounds it and Reel Unknown has managed to tap into and exploit. They have the ability to create an environment in which you are so relaxed and prepared to laugh, that you won’t miss the opportunity to do so – one which you won’t want to miss in the future either. With their next event scheduled for December, all we can do is sit and wait and hopefully they’ll release come clues soon.