Sneaky Experience Review: A Nightmare on Elm Street

3 November 2015


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It's Halloween Eve eve. With tired eyes and rumbling bellies, my friends and I hop in the car and drive down to Kirkstall Abbey. I always find it a wonder that such a beautiful memento of history can co-exist so harmoniously with the nearby cinema complex, supermarket and streets and streets of terraced housing. We park across the street and stroll down into the darkness. Are we in for a trick or a treat? 

The reason we're gathered here, alongside witches and blood-drenched vampires in the cold, is for the opening night of Sneaky Experience's Halloween weekend - something I previewed previously in this post.

We turn the corner, further into the grand granite, and there out of the bleak blackness erupts an orange gleam of light.  Spooky songs play out of the hidden speakers. A bustling, buzzing  courtyard arises with food, drink, fire-breathers and so much more.






Because of being so starving, we stampede straight to the food stalls. There's an amazing array of places to grab grub. But we're won over by Artisan Toasties, essentially serving up posh grilled cheeses. Right up my street! I opt for the beef version - beef, caramelised onions, and cheese - with a side of Krueger fries. No, no razor blades in amongst the chips (thank god) just a whole lot of Cajun spice and Cajun Mayo. What an absolute treat. 




Once we've tucked in, it's time to be spooked! We follow the ghostly man who has been roaming around, a bell in one hand, inviting the masses to follow him into the interactive board game. I squeal instantly. Through the Abbey walls, using our phones as light, we find the first Gatekeeper. He stands proudly at the entrance, handing each team a dice to roll in order to proceed. He bids us farewell and off into the maze.

I won't reveal too much about our experience within the walls of the game, because to do so would eclipse a little of its magic, no? I will tell you though that we screamed at the top of our lungs, had to pretend to be zombies, had our hair stroked by a demon barber, and I had to tell a joke to Pennywise the clown. Bloody terrifying but exhilarating.

Also, this is the scariest face we could muster...



We make it out well and truly alive, yet with goopy hands (due to one of the challenges) we head back to the square, avoiding zombies en route like we're in some kind of Halloween themed video game. Then it's time to prepare for the film! As the firebreathers The SteelCats dance and blow flames around us, we wander over to the bar and buy a pumpkin full of Pimms. I'm not joking. Other beverages could be found inside blood plasmas. All the points for creativity! After buying our far-too-big pot of booze and fruit, we join the ever-increasing queue for the cinematic lair. 


It's funny how far special effects have come along, isn't it? Wes Craven's 1984 A Nightmare on Elm Street - the film getting the Sneaky treatment - is definitely more camp than chilling. Freddy Krueger loses some of his malice somewhat due to the hilariously dated sequences of him transporting through a window, or evilly licking his lips. He's super creepy, but more in a straight up perv kinda way. Either way, I wouldn't want to meet him on a dark night, or in a dark Abbey.

Though my nose grows a little chilly, our setting can only be summed up in two words (well, one hyphenated): breath-taking. My sole complaint of the whole evening would be that it would've been nice had our seats not been left out in the roofless ruins before the screening as a soggy, soggy bottom ensued because of this. Nevertheless, even with the very tall man in front of me, everything was amazing. 

An incredibly young Johnny Depp in a cropped jersey that was reminiscent of a female club get-up was probably my FAVOURITE part. Along with everyone laughing in unison.

If you get a chance to head to the adventurous pop-up cinema that is Sneaky Experience, seriously don't miss it! It was truly one of the best evenings I've had in a while (minus the resulting sniffles). 

Catch sing along versions of your favourite Christmas films over the festive period, and The Shawshank Redemption and Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory in March 2016.


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