The last movie I saw in theaters was Inception. And when I say l “last,” I mean it; it may very well be the last movie I will ever see in theaters. Sure, the film was certainly a good one (I mean, who didn’t like it?), and, by the time I hastily made for door as the credits began to roll, I felt satisfied by the flick. Not so much for the rest of the experience, though. Hindered by trouble after trouble and a stream of frustrating moments, the atmosphere itself was not enjoyable. But oh, how I wish this was merely an isolated case; instead, however, it is yet another thing to chalk down on a growing list of reasons why I hate going to the movies.
Yes, for the most part, I steer clear of the cinema, haunted by the hidden terrors that pop up all too often during each outing. Sometimes, however, I’m lucky, and only inconvenienced by a screaming baby or someone with a case of bad BO. Other times? Well, I often find those instances almost too scary to talk about.
In Bermuda, the movie theaters aren’t very good at all. In fact, I’d wager that the experiences I’ve had with my island’s sub-par standards in film-watching have more than soured my opinions of cinemas as a whole. With all of four mediocre single-screen venues to choose from (and, of which, none are IMAX-equipped), Bermuda’s theater scene suffers not only from technological drawbacks, but also a lack of choice. Once a new picture appears on-island, it plays in only one cinema at a time, and it must finish its rounds at that movie house before it moves on to another. Therefore, during a film’s opening week, Bermuda’s 60,000-or-so residents have only one location and just few times they can see it. Often, a new and sure-to-be popular movie will begin playing at the smallest venue on the island, a mini-cinema that seats under 200 and was once aptly-named The Little Theater. As you can imagine, these showings sell out quickly, making movie-going an activity you absolutely have to plan ahead for.
But plan ahead for what? A three-hour plus experience inside a room filled with the unspeakable? Gah! However, the movie theater is a necessary evil, and one we must brave in order to see that film that would have been spoiled for us anyway, had we had waited for it on DVD. But that doesn’t mean we have to like going to the cinema, does it? So, in an effort to soothe the soul (or at least my own, anyway), I’ve compiled a list of things that turn a movie house into a haunted house.
1. Loud Theater-Goers
If there’s one thing I can at least moderately appreciate about movie theaters, it’s the lighting. In general, there are stages, with each signaling to the audience what to expect and, indirectly how to act. When the lights are up and nothing of interest is on the screen, you’re permitted to chat away, passing time until they dim. The radio will play faintly in the background, masking some of the talk. Soon, the lights will fade slightly, and the theater will grow dark while previews are projected. Here, the chatter should fade to a whisper, allowing those with interest in the trailers to watch in peace, while others can quietly mingle for a few more minutes. However, once the lights are off and the movie begins proper, silence is expected, and all attention should turn to the screen.
Sadly, this is never the case. Rather than taking the sudden change in both sound and light as a cue to shut up, a few will continue to talk throughout the movie. At best, their voices will keep to a whisper, but even this thin squeaking can prove highly annoying. At worst, however, they will make no attempt to lower their speaking volume, and a few will even talk in louder drones, wrecking the movie for those nearby. Others will be on their phones, and a baby may erupt in screams, with the mother refusing to remove them from the theater.
With all these sounds clashing together, a chaotic and frustrating atmosphere is created, and the movie, in effect, is ruined for the rest who are actually paying attention.
Please, if you must talk, walk outside (or, better yet, don’t buy a ticket at all). If you have an urgent phone call, excuse yourself discretely and make for the door. If you have a fussy baby, leave them at home with a sitter. Just don’t allow your personal matters to wreck the movie for everyone else.
2. Unnecessary Commentary
As irksome as loud movie-goers are, there are perhaps another group who are even more exasperating. I like to refer to these people as wannabe-commentators, and I think the handle suits them well. Normally, they’ve already seen the movie, but ostensibly return only to provide a loud and obnoxious oral commentary for the rest of the audience. Of course, they have no problem spoiling the film either. These unique folk talk to the screen constantly, shouting phrases such as “he’s gonna get it!” and “watch this part!” at the worst moments.
If I wanted commentary, I’d wait to hear it on DVD, where actual directors and actors will give their own words on the movie they starred in or had a part in. Really, I don’t need you to ruin film I’m seeing in order to avoid spoilers. That kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?
3. The Smell
People can stink, food can stink, and so can unclean rooms. Mix these things together and you get a cocktail of smell that is not only revolting, but also intoxicating. As the wave of funk wafts from one nose to the next, depending on the theater, it can be quite nasty. With body odor, bad perfume and a lack of cleanliness all contributing to the foul brew, that smog-filled city air outside may just feel like a breath of fresh air once you’re out there.
4. The Mess
If there’s ever a place to catch a germ or two, it’s in a movie theater, where the seats, carpet and food stains are home to thousands of infectious bacteria. Cinemas aren’t clean, and really, in a dark room that hundreds frequent each day, there’s no way to completely evade the filth. So, if the inevitable happens and you find yourself making a reluctant trek to the theater, don’t only keep your hands close to yourself, but also a bottle of Purell.
5. The Seating
It’s upsetting how so many theaters are able screw up the second most important part of the theater experience after the presentation of the actual film: the seats. Uncomfortable, dirty and often broken, these chairs, supposedly designed for comfort, sometimes provide the opposite. The most cumbersome issue arises when someone not in one of the end seats wants to make a trip to the bathroom. They’re required to get up, wait for their seat to fold, and then squeeze past the other audience members. As they waddle by, those in their seats must make themselves small, allowing the passer more room. Some are polite, and will duck and say “excuse me” so as not to block the view; others, however, will just barge through and interrupt the film for those watching.
However, this all isn’t the fault of someone needing to use the bathroom; rather, it’s the poor design of the theater’s seating that makes things uncomfortable. While cinema-seating has other problems, they all grow from the same source, and that source is in need of a refresh. But if that’s not possible, why don’t we just remove the seats completely and bring lawn chairs and bean bags instead? Hey, it’s a thought.
So there you have it: five reasons why the movie theater you’re sitting in can sometimes be scarier than that horror flick you’re watching. If you agree or have another peeve to list, mention it in the comments below. Or, if you think I’m just an over-exaggerating and obsessive compulsive film-watcher, you can feel free to let me know as well. That way, I’ll be sure not to sit by you next time I’m forced to take a trip to the movies.