Since starting last year, the monthly Phoenix Mystery Film has grown in popularity to the point where it virtually sells out every time. Feature writer Mark Taylor hands over his £3 to find out what it’s like sitting in a cinema not knowing what’s going to come up on screen.
Phoenix staff take it in turns to choose the film. It could be anything – previous showings this year have included New Zealand comedy Eagle Vs Shark to Mickey Rourke in The Wrestler.
My first Mystery Film was bittersweet. There was an air of excitement that was different to the usual cinema experience.
People wonder out loud what’s it going to be, discuss previous screenings and what they don’t want to see. Then there’s some oohs and aahs as the titles come up – or in my case, a groan. I’m not a Woody Allen fan. But for £3 I was prepared to sit through Annie Hall again. And to be fair, it was better than I remember it. Funnier too.
So you never know… as Seema Saujani found out when she saw Japanese manga film Paprika at one of the more recent showings.
Seema has seen plenty of people go in to Mystery Film in her role on Phoenix box office, but only recently joined the throng. And she loved it.
“It was so exciting. You only see the titles about 7 minutes in. You have no idea what is coming up and there is that sense of anticipation.”
It was also a bit of an eye opener for her, as some of the scenes in the 2006 Japanese film looked like they had inspired scenes from Christopher Nolan’s 2010 blockbuster Inception.
“I hadn’t seen Paprika before – I’d never even heard of it. It was so original and ‘out there’. It was amazing to see how bits of that film look like they were copied for Inception.”
“I think the Mystery Film draws a more diverse crowd than usual. There are more people in their 20s and 30s – there are even people on dates, with no idea what film they are going to see. It’s great fun.”
So there you have it. The Mystery Film may be any classification up to an 18 certificate so these screenings are over-18s only. Check our website for details of the next screening, and take a chance!