I went to see a horror film yesterday at a cinema in York. It was truly one of the most harrowing things I have seen in my life. It was a bleak, Lovecraftian nightmare which enveloped me in black, crushing despair. I hid behind my hands to try and escape the visual torment before me. Then of course, the film started and I forgot all about the screening room.
The Reel (see what they did there?) Cinema in York is, I am firmly convinced, the worst place to watch a film in all of England. And I’ve watched “Hobo with Shotgun” in a rancid bog of a field at Reading Festival with two thousand, sweaty grebos. Reel Cinema York has been weighed, it has been measured, and it has been found wanting.
After entering the atrium to be greeted by the check in desk from the Bates Motel, I entered the fabled Screen Four, which took about fifteen minutes of wandering the grim, musty hallways before locating it in some dingy annex which I hadn’t previously noticed. The total capacity of the screening was about fifteen and had presumably only just been hosed down from the yellow mac brigade’s 3am pornography screening. The screen was smaller than that projector in D-Bar they use to stream footie matches. One of my companions did remark that she had “a bigger screen at home”, which I had resisted saying because if you say that in my branch of southern accent people wonder if you’re actually being serious. To be honest with you I could have forgiven all this, but the armrests are what really tipped me over the edge.
Apparently having an armrest thick enough to actually rest an arm on was considered an unnecessary extravagance for the Reel Cinema Accounts department, who had already proved themselves to have a decidedly Spartan attitude to spending. The armrests are so thin it feels like trying to rest your arms on two pieces of cheese wire. Which in all fairness probably fits the rest of the BDSM sex dungeon vibe Reel appears to be attempting to emulate. Not that it was really worth having an arm rest at all because the seat positions meant that I was sat so close to the burly, bald, mountain of a man next to me that I dared not move my arms from a position that made it look as if I had been hung out to dry by my shoulders.
It’s a sad testament to a cinema when an advert for Silent Hill comes on before the film and your first thought is “Christ, I wish I was there right now”. In terms of redeeming features it was pretty cheap for a ticket. But a lot of things are quite cheap, like Tenants Super and getting stabbed outside a kebab shop in Wandsworth. Being cheap obviously means it is expected you will have to sacrifice quality to a degree, but it isn’t an excuse to let your cinema fall into decrepid, asbestos-ridden ruin.
So I guess my considered final opinion, having reviewed the evidence and looked at both sides of the argument, is that Reel Cinema York is a dank, sweaty, squalid cave from the deepest, fiery pits of the eighth circle of hell. And it’s still four pound for a Coke. Some things never change.