Two Strange and Unrelated Movie Experiences…

So, tonight my friend Randy and I went to a dry run of a new AMC Dine-In Theatre.  The chain took one of its existing buildings here in St. Louis and totally remodeled it so that patrons can now, in every one of its theatres in this particular location, order and eat dinner and view, say, The Avengers, which is what we chose to watch tonight.  Sound interesting?

Well, it was…kind of.  First off, AMC has put some money into this endeavor.  The place was totally renovated and looked nice.  Inside each theatre, the chairs have been replaced with lush, comfortable rocker/recliner things, each with a little sidetable and a swing out tray, for your plates and flatware and stuff.  There are, because of this, a lot fewer seats in the auditorium.  And you have to reserve seats, when you buy the tickets in advance, 0r choose from what’s left if you buy at the box office.

The service was great–attentive and friendly–if a little annoying.  I mean, I get frustrated when ordinary people get up and move around during a movie.  So, magnify this by about 20, and count on it going on throughout the movie as waiters bring drinks, entrees, desserts, carry away plates, bring the bill, etc.  It’s all too distracting.  If I hadn’t seen the movie already(about six times), I’d be a little miffed. For a movie that you really want to watch–or a movie that really demands your attention–this could be problematic.

And then there’s the food.  It wasn’t bad, don’t get me wrong.  It’s about the level of an Applebee’s or TGIFs, which is edible…if just.  But the prices were a little steep, especially since everything is basically ala carte.  I ordered the beef tips, which came with broccoli and mashed potatoes (I think…more on that in a minute), and it was ambitiously priced at $15.99.  No salad, no nothing.  Appetizers were all on the small side and generally about $10.  Drinks were ridiculously priced, too, and I’m only talking about the sodas.  $4.50 a pop…literally.  Dinner here is an expensive proposition, for food you can get just about anywhere else for a helluva lot cheaper.

Let’s not forget, also, that you’ll be eating in the dark.  In. The. Dark.  They have some discrete lights to the sides of the seats, but these do nothing to illuminate your dining experience.  To compound this, the meals we were served were atop black plastic dinnerware.  Black.  My meal was literally so dark that I never really got a glimpse of it at all, and was constantly surprised by what I put into my mouth each time I speared the fork down into the bowl.  Oh, a piece of…broccoli…I think.  Mashed potatoes….no, no steak!  It was all a bit disconcerting.

As an experience, sure, why not.  Once.  Maybe twice.  Or if you’re rushed some evening and want to grab dinner and a movie.  But this experience would have set us back probably $60, and that’s without the cost of the movie.  (We were guests for the trial run through an invitation Randy received.)  So, with the movie–which we weren’t told whether or not you’d also have to  pay for…but I mean, come on, I expect that–this would have been an $80+ night for two people.  That’s a little steep for average food eaten in the dark and a distracting movie experience.

We left this movie and rushed to another theatre to see the movie that we wanted to see in the first place…Sinister. Even though I am a horror writer, I am not, generally, a fan of horror movies.  And this one didn’t change that one bit.  The movie was tedious in its build-up, with dozens of minutes of Ethan Hawke walking through darkened hallways and endlessly threading film into his 8mm projector.  Honestly, Mr. Director, show the dude threading the projector once.  That’s enough.  You don’t have to show the projector being threaded each and every time the bloody thing is turned on.  We get it.

Anyway, the movie was dull, tedious, not very gory (thankfully, but that at least would have been something).  And, like most horror movies (and gymnasts!) it screws the pooch on the dismount.  The last five or ten minutes of the movie unrolled exactly as expected from the set up, and was ridiculously, shamefully lame.  It was one of those “Ahh, shit, we ran out of money/ideas, so…(SPOILER ALERT!!!)….let’s just kill everybody.  Everybody.  The end.”

Why can’t anyone seem to make a decent horror movie?  Sheesh.


About John F.D. Taff

John F.D. Taff is a writer, published author, raconteur and wrangler of angry stoats. He has more than 80 short stories and 7 novels published. He lives in the great, unspoiled vastness of the Midwest. He has a tremendous wife named Debbie, three pugs, Sadie, Tovah and Muriel, and three great kids--Harry, Sam and Molly. View all posts by John F.D. Taff

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