Watching films is very rarely a flawless experience. As any film fan will know, you either have to brave the coughs, chewing noises, popcorn rustling and obnoxious kids in the back row, or else stay home and settle for a screen that seems pea-sized by comparison. The experience often doesn’t do justice to the movie itself. That’s where Hacked Off Films comes in – they have created an entirely new way to experience movies, and it’s as brilliant as it is ridiculous.
They called their recent Ferris Bueller event “an immersive cinema experience”, and it certainly lived up to that description. Held in a lecture theatre in the English Faculty, you become part of the film just by walking in – the room has been chosen and set out to look like the school where so much of the film is set. There are even Oreos and Pepsi on the tables, a subtle tribute to a great scene in the film. Already things are looking good.
But it goes further than this – the scene is set up so that the viewer, whether they want to or not, is forced to become a participant in the action. As soon as we sat down, we were approached by a character from the film, asking (in a perfect Eighties American accent) for donations to help save Ferris. Then in strolls a teacher, mimicking the slow, exaggerated actions of his cinematic counterpart, and begins to take a register. There are a few awkward moments as he has to repeatedly call out “Adams… Adams… Adams…” before someone in the audience finally realises what’s going on and has the guts to call out “here!” This isn’t a plant, but audience participation. He continues until he reaches “Bueller”, and we all giggle like nervous school children, but somehow it’s great fun.
It doesn’t stop when the film begins, either. One minute we’re watching a celebratory carnival scene when suddenly there’s a cheer of delight as hundreds of balloons begin cascading down from above. It’s something so simple, and yet it absolutely brought the scene to life. We found ourselves cheering and clapping along with the characters onscreen, and nobody particularly cared that the whole room was starting to resemble a cheesy American cinema commercial.
Because, in the end, that’s where the event really hit the mark – not in the location or the acting or even the Oreos (though they definitely helped), but in the communal atmosphere that was created. It would have taken a determined effort to not get chatting to the people sat around you, not to laugh out loud at the gags, or chuckle appreciatively when the droning teacher made a miraculous reappearance onscreen. Though the audience varied from die-hard fans of the film, dressed in ‘80s clothing, to people who, like me, had never even seen it before, somehow everyone was able to band together.
The whole event plays on the film’s status as a cult classic, of course, and Hacked Off Film’s previous event, a screening of Harry Potter, did the same. They try to go somewhere new with movies, creating an experience that effortlessly outdoes the ordinary film showings you’d find at Magdalen Film Society, without becoming as alienatingly nerdy as a Star Wars Society event.
At the end of the film, we were showered in confetti while the organisers of the event paraded around playing banjos and singing, in what was perhaps the most surreal moment of the night. We laughed, we clapped, we cheered, and in that moment, I couldn’t help but feel like this was how movies, particularly comedic cult classics, were supposed to be enjoyed.
PHOTO/ theleetgeeks, quicheisinsane