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Secret Cinema: Blade Runner experience

Secret Cinema is an absolutely insane experience that immerses you in a world from your favourite films.

Without sounding too much like an infomercial, this is something I would highly recommend to any movie buff. In a nutshell, Secret Cinema recreates massive sets from many different films at a range of locations. The films alternate every few months—previous events were based on films such as Dirty Dancing, Star Wars and Alien.

My experience was with the Blade Runner Secret Cinema experience. From the 'not so far off' neo-noir world of 2019 Los Angeles, Secret Cinema places you within Sector 4, a Chinatown, neon fever-dream filled with street food stalls, massive screens to rival Picadilly Cirus, all the way to Japanese vending machines — no detail is spared.

To start, we had to get tickets from the official website. There were three tiers of tickets, and depending on the selected date the prices would fluctuate. The tiers represented what we could access during the event. For instance, the high-end tickets get you a waiter service for a certain part of the experience. We decided on the mid-tier ticket on the final day of the event, costing about £75 each. It may appear quite pricey, but you do get your money's worth — believe me.

Secret Cinema would not be much of a secret if all the major details were advertised, so part of the fun was that once we purchased a ticket, we were given information in the weeks before the event, as well as our own 'persona'. Each attendee is assigned a character to portray whilst at the event, such as a private investigator or an entertainer. Your character includes a new name, job and backstory for you to play around with.

You are also asked to bring a selection of items to open up certain opportunities when arrive. Without giving too much away already, a clear umbrella or raincoat was essential.

After booking a hotel and hauling our luggage around London in the 30-degree weather, we finally got to our meeting point. To be honest, we got a few funny looks from people, especially being dressed in coats and capes in the sweltering heat, but once we got to the group we soon blended in. That's when the fun starts. The company consists of a massive amount of actors who never break character, fully placing you in the world of Blade Runner.

Unfortunately, you can't use phones at the event, at the risk of having them confiscated - it is 'secret' after all. You put them into a sealed bag, but you can keep them on you. Lockers are also provided outside the building for any personal items. I'm not going to lie, it was a bit of a shame to miss out on some killer pictures, but at the same time, it's so much more immersive to not be looking at everything through a camera lens. After all, camera phones don't technically exist in Blade Runner.

The first look inside was absolutely amazing. We were bombarded with lights, colours and smells, as well as visitors and actors interacting. The whole spectacle was topped off by the constant rain in the central square, hence why we needed umbrellas.

As for the aforementioned items we needed to bring, they were required in order to take part in a story relating to your character. My dad went on a massive goose chase searching for smuggled 'replicants', and I tried - and failed - to make a business deal. The beauty of the event is that every person will have a wildly different experience. You could choose to follow your story or just wander around and eat dumplings for two hours.

Following the initial few hours, everyone is gathered up and taken to watch the film, with the live actors replicating the scenes alongside it. This is where the high-tier tickets come in with waiter service during the film. It's so great to be able to watch the film with so many other fans, all attending for their appreciation of Blade Runner.

The event doesn't finish then and there though. You get to carry on enjoying the set after being converted into a nightclub. Once you have a drink from one of the many bars, it's time to dance, whether you want to jam out to classic 80's tunes in the Snake Pit or go full 90's Ibiza and dance in the rain. It has to be my absolute favourite part of the evening, even if we had to a bit of a walk of shame through the hotel drenched head to toe.

This was just for my experience though. Each film Secret Cinema does has a completely different setup, so it would be up to you to find out. Honestly, if you are an utter nerd when it comes to films, this is certainly the thing for you.

Secret Cinema's next film is Romeo and Juliet - yes, the Leo DiCaprio one. I'm certain it will be fantastic, especially with all those angel wings and Hawaiian shirts.

Featured Image: Anton_Ivanov / Shutterstock.com

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