How important are audience dynamics to your experience?
A few recent screenings underline the importance of a good crowd
At this point, I see most of my theatrical movies in the same place, the downtown Los Angeles location of the Alamo Drafthouse.
I have a season pass for two people and the theater is a 20-minute drive from my house. That means I can go once a day with someone to see anything they’re showing. The sound and picture are impeccable, and I’ve never had a problem with another audience member there. That’s pretty much all I need to be a loyal customer at this point. There are certainly things about the location that I don’t love. The parking garage for The Bloc is a dystopian hellscape at times. The elevator you have to use to get from the fourth floor to the second floor seems to be getting crankier and crankier, and when it doesn’t work, it sends you on a long extended detour through this outdoor mall where I have seen guys fistfighting with the cops. I have seen people doing all manner of things on the long winding ramp that you have to use to get to the parking levels, like a weird X-rated Pirates of the Caribbean. I don’t want to presume what led these people to these choices, but there’s something about the way that garage is built that makes it a haven for some wild characters. I’ve seen people pleasuring themselves, pleasuring each other, ingesting various substances, and the other day, thanks to some slow-moving cars in front of me, I even got to enjoy a little extended eye contact with a guy who was taking a shit.
In some ways, that’s the perfect setting for a screening of Lee Cronin’s Evil Dead Rise. I went to see it at 10:30 the other night, and on this occasion, my girlfriend did not join me. She saw the trailer for this in front of John Wick 4 and her reaction was a firm “Nope.” She is not a horror fan, which I respect. The weird truth about my own relationship with horror is that I saw a few traumatically scary films when I was too young, and for many years, I wanted nothing to do with horror movies at all. When I did start reading Stephen King and watching horror films, they gave me powerful nightmares, and I developed some crazy phobias. Thanks to King’s short story “The Boogeyman,” I could not sleep in a room with an open closet door until I was in my teens. John Carpenter’s Halloween made it nearly impossible for me to walk through my suburban neighborhood at night, terrified of every tall hedge I had to pass. I snuck into A Nightmare On Elm Street with a friend of mine and the two of us paid the price with the way the film stuck to us. I had to watch horror films in bits and pieces on video to help defuse the way they would rock my world, and I had to learn how they were made so I could defang the monsters and demystify the violence. Now I relish the feeling of seeing something like Evil Dead Rise in a theater with a vocally appreciative audience and then knowing I’m going to have to walk through something that almost feels like an interactive haunted house just to get to my car. Closest thing this indoor kid does to skydiving.
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