For lovers of cinema, there’s really nothing quite like seeing a movie in the theater. While VOD services may allow easier access for movie lovers to watch from the comfort of their own homes, it cannot compare to sitting in a dim theatre with popcorn that cost almost as much as the ticket. The movie theater experience has recently come under fire due to the super jerks that insist on texting or those that, quite frankly, won’t shut the hell up and watch the damn movie. While many theaters are cracking down on unruly behavior within the confines of a screening, these inconsiderate clown asses have essentially taken away what it means to “go” to the theater. The average theatergoers genuinely don’t know how to behave in theaters anymore. Can I laugh out loud? Can I scream when I’m scared? Am I going to get shushed for gasping at this point? It’s exhausting to figure out what sort of faux pas one could commit within the theater, and it’s forcing more and more people to wait until flicks come out on blu-ray, or hit VOD. Going to the theater is an experience, and one that I share with my fellow audience members. Yelling at the screen shows that the audience is invested to the point where they cannot contain their emotions any longer, and I love that. I love seeing the raw, unashamed emotional expressions of people watching a movie. No one says shit to a bunch of crying girls at a screening of “The Notebook,” but if someone screams at the wrong part of a horror film, suddenly they’re an asshole. Now, I get it, hearing “BITCH, DON’T YOU DARE OPEN THAT DOOR, YOU GON’ DIE!” can be distracting, but there are moments for me I’ve experienced watching a film that would have been nothing without the lively nature of my audience. Here’s my top five theatergoing experiences thanks to the help of my audience.
Considering I was born in 1990, a large amount of my horror movie theater experiences have been within the last six years. I wish I had some story about being a rebellious teenager who snuck into horror movies, but I was a total square that followed the rules and watched horror movies at home in the basement by myself. However, when I was about 9 years old, I had one of the coolest babysitters in the world. The drive-in theater by my childhood home (which closes this summer, unfortunately) was having a slasher marathon one evening, and my babysitter wanted to go. Knowing full well that I was growing up to be the little gorehound myself, she snuck me into the drive-in by covering me with her winter coat as I laid in the back seat of her mom’s mini-van. At this point, my baby sitter and I had already seen “Sleepaway Camp” dozens of times, but we could tell that the people around us had no idea what they were in for. The drive-in remained quiet for most of the film, but the second the reveal hit when Angela Baker stands naked making her primal growl, fifty something cars filled with teenagers with illegal substances coursing through their little veins began to shriek. My babysitter and I just sat on the hood of the car and laughed our asses off as the everyone around us let out a roar of “OH MY GOD” “No Freakin’ Way!” and “EWWWWW. WHAT?!” comments. It was so loud that people began honking their horns and eventually, everyone was honking their horns. The second film had to be delayed because people were making so much noise in response to the end of the film. That’s a childhood memory I’ll never forget, and it’s one I would have never gotten had the audience been “well-behaved”
I cannot put into words how stoked I was to see “Drag Me To Hell.” With promises of nods to “The Evil Dead,” and Raimi’s return to horror, there was absolutely nothing that was preventing me from enjoying my time. For those who don’t know, I am a former beauty queen. *flips hair* I was accompanied for the premiere of DMTH by two of my closest friends, 6’0’’ blonde haired, blue eyed, beauty queens. One of these two girls is NOT a horror fan. This girl, bless her heart, was having heart attacks just watching the previews. Our audience was plenty active, laughing, screaming, gasping, and interacting just enough to make the movie fun but not so much that I wanted to punch someone in the face. However, the girl next to me was shaking like the father of a daughter on prom night. When it got to the scene where Christine is in her car and suddenly Mrs. Ganush pops out of nowhere and attacks her. The audience went absolutely crazy. My friend was shaking, but when Mrs. Ganush’s teeth pop out and her reaction is to try and gum Christine to death, the audience completely lost their shit. People were screaming with laughter, some were so grossed out they were squirming in their seats, and my dear friend ended up curled in a ball with her head in her hands, completely mortified. We make fun of her to this day, and she can’t look at stray buttons without freaking out a little bit.
Have you ever laughed so hard in a movie theater that everyone around you wanted you dead? I have. During a visit from my long distance boyfriend, we were fortunate enough to catch a screening of “The Cabin In The Woods” in Chicago when it premiered. The whole audience was filled with nothing but critics, members of the press, and bonafide horror geeks. Everyone loved the flick, but after hearing the villain from Billy Madison whine about wanting to see a merman for the better half of the film, my man and I both started calling for him to show up. “He’s gonna get attacked by the merman, I know it. I just know it.” Lo and behold, after the monsters are all set free and the merman is shown, the two of us laughed so hard I thought we were going to get kicked out. AND THEN BLOOD SHOT OUT OF THE BLOWHOLE. You’ve gotta be kidding me at this point. I lost it. I could not physically contain my excitement and this snob dude next to me who clearly hated horror films and was only covering this film because his boss made him turned to look at us and made some scoffing comment under his breath, but it didn’t matter. Everyone else around us was flipping out just as hard and loving every second of it.
Darren Aranofsky makes some pretty warped films, but I would rather watch “Requiem for a Dream” on repeat than have to suffer through ten seconds of some of the scenes in “Black Swan.” I saw the film twice in theaters, and both time I had a rather unresponsive audience. However, it was in the second theater during the scene when Nina notices a hangnail on her hand where we were no longer an audience, but rather a bonding unit that survived one of the most horrific scenes and were forever family having endured it. When Nina begins to pull at her hangnail and it keeps on ripping her skin, the audience collectively squirmed in their seats and made audible responses of horror. Much like the papercut scenes in “Jackass,” there was something about watching her rip the skin off of her fingers that made all of us completely lose their minds. I to this day cannot watch that scene without having a knee-jerk reaction of disgust, but I know my fellow brethren are out there who feel the exact same way.
I was born in raised in the “hood” suburbs of Chicago, IL. Naturally, my audiences for most movie going experiences have been alongside people who were either holding or packing at any given moment. I’ve seen some crazy stuff go down around town, but nothing (and I mean NOTHING) was scarier than the ending of “The Devil Inside.” For those who don’t know, it’s a black screen with “For more information go to this stupid website for the ending.” That’s not a joke. The ending of that film is the equivalent to an over the jeans rubdown and then walking away. It was the closest thing I’ve ever experienced to Ralphie’s secret code being for Ovaltine in “A Christmas Story.” I have never been so excited and terrified than the moment that screen hit when I was in the middle of a theater filled with some unruly people who would shoot a man for looking at him the wrong way. There was a weird silence upon the theater when the screen popped up. All of a sudden, “Wait…Is this a fucking joke?” “These motherfuckers can’t be serious.” “Oh, oh my god. This is really the fucking ending, isn’t it?” “YOU’VE GOTTA BE FUCKING KIDDING ME!” and BOOM. Chaos. People started throwing popcorn, everyone was screaming at the theater, some guy called the voicemail of one of the production companies behind the film and cursed out their voicemail, and once the anger subsided, we all stood together, and started laughing. All of us. Every last one of us started laughing at the fact we just sat through a movie that ended with an ad for a website. On the way out, everybody was high fiving and shaking hands, and we all left smiling. That, my friends, is an experience.