Cinema: Hackney Picturehouse
Price range: £14.10 peak, £12.20 off peak, £7.70 on a Monday. Membership is £62 which includes 4 free tickets, £2 off all other tickets and 10% off food and drink.
This was an inevitable cinema for me to review as it is just across the road from my office, making it my next port of call after the 10/10 Odeon Luxe near my house.
Saying that, I’ve actually put doing this one off for a while – I’ve been trying to go as many times as I can to give it a fair chance (can you sense what’s coming?), and even in the 11 months I’ve been a regular here, I still am yet to see a film in the apparently large main screen. I don’t even know where this supposedly massive screen is! What films are they showing there?! I don’t get it.
It’s two different things, reviewing the Picturehouse as a chain and reviewing this as a cinema. I’m a big fan of the PH brand (in Exeter, the Picturehouse was the only non-savage cinema for a long time – now there’s the beautiful Studio 74 to compliment it), and their mix of blockbuster/art house, commitment to putting on great events and also housing a lot of great bars/cafes is second to none.
This branch of the Cineworld owned chain (I know, right?) opened in 2011, after a nightclub previously on the site closed down. It boasts 5 screens, 3 bars and a ‘live music venue.’
Hmm. Does it though?
The staff are so lovely. During the winter I ate lunch in here several times a week, and the food is always so good and the people behind the bar have been nothing but sweet, fast and attentive.
The capacity of the cinema also means that there’s almost always a showing of at least a couple of films I haven’t seen on daily – especially things that might only be on at awkward times elsewhere. If I feel like an after work trip, it’s pretty much guaranteed that there will be a film on I want to see at 6pm-ish, on any day.
So here’s the crux of the matter: there’s a weird vibe in here. On paper, there’s nothing much wrong with the screens. They’re clean, they’re quiet, the screen sizes are good…but the atmosphere in this cinema is honestly bizarre.
Like I said, I’ve been here quite a lot of times over the last year, and I am yet to attend a screening that had more than 15 people present. I have only been during the week, but still. This week, I even attended my very first ever screening of a film in which I was the only person present! It was weird as fuck and I felt like a ghost was going to get me and I hated it.
One of the screens that I dislike particularly is on its own, up an abandoned flight of stairs that probably has ‘character’ but I feel like is very strange and again, probs haunted. Also, they leave some of the lights on a timer, so when you’re the first out of a film sometimes you stumble into a pitch black corridor. Creepy.
Next, there’s the ‘Lounge Screen’ – a smallish screen that has chairs which are practically horizontal, which is actually kind of comfy. Unfortunately, this is where I was in the unintended solo screening, so I literally lay down in the dark for 2 hours and yes I fell asleep many, many times.
Kind of cool, right? It is, but it’s also a little unloved, which I think is the recurring issue with this whole cinema.
There isn’t technically anything wrong with it, and it’s still better than a smelly old Vue (of course), but it just feels a little bit forgotten.
I would give this 5/10 as it is truly average, but I’ve added one point for the good food and the lovely staff. Nothing* is more upsetting to me than an unloved cinema – don’t neglect your Hackney home, Picturehouse.