CHARLES GRAHAM - Cinematic nightmares

The Woman in Black
The Woman in Black

I SET foot in Wigan’s Empire cinema for probably the final time last weekend.

That wasn’t the intention at the start of the night, but at the moment I cannot countenance a return.

Lulled into a false sense of security of a good night out by the previous visit - to The King’s Speech - I ventured to see The Woman in Black. For those who don’t know, this is a horror film starring Daniel Radcliffe and very good it appears to be too.

Unfortunately I should have learnt the lesson of an ill-fated earlier trip to the Robin Park multiplex which readers of this page may recall. That was Paranormal Activity II night when a theatre full of young morons completely ruined the movie.

Incapable of keeping quiet or still, they brayed, guffawed, squawked, jibbered and screamed their way through the entire feature. Those who had seen it before even shouted out warnings about up-coming thrills. One wondered why they bought a ticket when they had such scant regard for the movie, let alone respect for fellow viewers.

Any other film genre and the disturbances wouldn’t jar quite so much. Then again there wouldn’t be such disturbances in the first place.

Annoyingly that too was a good film but of course a scary movie will never be quite as good after the first time, even if you re-watch it in peace.

Anyway, back to The Woman in Black. On entering the theatre my heart immediately sank at the sight of hundreds of unaccompanied youngsters for this 12A feature.

Crackling sweet packets aside (why do cinemas sell such noisy wrappers?), they were reasonably well behaved to start with, although a few dozen with incredibly weak bladders or atrocious concentration spans (E number overdose?) had already left their seats for a break after the first 15 minutes.

You also have to give a bit of leeway for what might be referred to as “post-shock cinematic hubbub” - that laughing and chattering that can drown out subsequent dialogue or disrupt tension immediately after a sudden scare.

But as the film progressed and the suspense (theoretically) grew, so the reactions became more raucous, protracted and irritating. The last 10 minutes were bedlam until the final scene when, buoyed by each others’ bravado and the lack of any intervention from staff, dozens of youngsters were shouting an offensive word (which I shan’t repeat here), at the screen.

I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Immediately complaining to a senior member of staff I was told she had been in there all the time and there was no problem! I was feeling as if I had somehow over-reacted until, one after one, other adults who had been in the theatre began to loom over her with the same grievances.

I realise riot control isn’t part of cinema staff’s brief but I have heard of audiences being warned in advance that any trouble and they’ll either be ejected or the film stopped.

Not here though, and with no apology or refund offered, I gave up. I thought that maybe in future that perhaps I should spend my £6.75 on a seat in an Empire-screened horror film three weeks after it had first been shown so I could watch in a virtually empty auditorium. Of course there won’t be difficulties with films like The King’s Speech because it gets a different audience.

Then I thought: to hell with it. I’ll just get DVDs in future.