Heard about the Reel Unknown secret cinema event that happened last week? Sam Henley discovered what it was all about…

Drug dealers, prostitutes, brutal violence and terrible acting. It’s all in a night’s work for a US Marshal assigned to the Reel Unknown Division.

I’d received an email from US Marshal Turner earlier in the week. I’d be observing the marshals in action at their headquarters. I’d been briefed to dress smartly, bring sunglasses and, er, “wear beige”. We rendezvoused at the Chinese Arch, and were promptly lead down Duke Street. A local dealer attempting to shift some ‘green’ was roughly dispatched by the marshals as we made our way to Wolstenholme Square. This evening, the more seedy residents of the square were out in force: a woman clearly soliciting greeted us by asking if “we were looking for a good time”. As we waited to enter the headquarters we were witness to a rather violent incident, as three men set upon a rather innocent looking bystander. Cameron, the innocent bystander, was able to fight them off, but only after fatally injuring one of them. Before we could act, we were ushered inside.

But rather than heading out for a Saturday evening in Concert Square, it was a quiet Tuesday in the Kazimier, and all of the fifty or so observers were here for Reel Unknown, the secret cinema club run by students of LIPA. The dramatic events continued inside as we were invited to have our mugshots taken, and were then greeted to a procession of mass murderers and the criminally insane (so not far off a night in Concert Square, then – Ed). The purpose of these amateur dramatics, boldly performed with terrible American accents, was to make us more involved with the film: to take whatever cinematic classic they had in mind and move it beyond its original 2D world.

If you hadn’t worked out by now, the scenes we’d seen were taken from Con Air, the quite awful film starring Nicholas Cage. We were treated to excruciating and unbelievable action scenes interspersed with some of the corniest dialog ever committed to film. It was great, in an absolutely terrible way; half action film and half comedy, even if this wasn’t the director’s original purpose.

Reel Unknown gets full marks for effort. To organise and run something like this takes a lot of planning and work. For a first time event, it ran smoothly and it’s a great new addition to Liverpool’s cultural offering. The night wasn’t perfect – the additional dramatics added to the film were fun, and occasionally tense, but a greater play on the unintentional comedic properties of Con Air could have improved it. As a first go though, with so much room to grow and develop, it’s got a bright future. Just don’t ask me what the next movie is, because I haven’t a clue.