The 7D cinema seemed to materialise from nowhere, fulfilling a need we never knew we had.
That it would just appear one day, that Dublin might be lacking cinema which entertains in not two or even three, but seven dimensions, follows the curious logic of its setting. Capel Street is an alternate dimension all of its own, one where elaborate sushi plates and strawberries sold from prams sit side-by-side.
The 7D cinema steps in when your senses are exhausted, your retina glutted on neon and dinner menus you don't understand. It challenges in name alone; who would have thought that the cinema you know and love has fallen short, that technology has progressed beyond the familiar two dimensions we were raised on?
The last 3D film I saw was 300: Rise of an Empire, an experience greatly enhanced by the hip flask I brought in to add to my bucket-sized Diet Coke. If you count the alcohol and intermittent shouts of "FINISH HIM" from me and my companions, the film featured five dimensions. But those gurning Spartans had nothing on the 7D cinema. We choose from a menu of twenty-five films, all of them under ten minutes long (I assume this is so as not to overwhelm viewers. With prolonged exposure one risks seizures, perhaps, or being swallowed whole, Poltergeist-like, by the screen).
There is something apocalyptic about the 7D cinema, as though it could only exist during cinematic endtimes, post-Avatar, in which all the special effects have been used up. It exists at the ends of the earth: open late, just as Capel Street gives way to stilettos and drunken stag night zombies, it calls out like a kitschy living room with its patterned wallpaper, its glowing light and leather sofas. The Facebook page invites you to "Feel the reality, full of emotions in VIRTUAL SPACE". With enough gin or Japanese plum wine or pints from the Black Sheep, the 7D cinema is as good a reality as any.
We choose a film called 'Haunted Forest', buy two €5 tickets, and after a short wait for the current screening to end (a young couple stagger out, dazed and smiling) we are led in and instructed to leave bags and coats at the side of the room. Then we climb onto a small structure like a rollercoaster carriage without its tracks.
This place lends itself well to the giddy, early stages of drunkenness (any more and the mechanics of the cinema might induce motion sickness, the cinema's bonus eighth dimension). There are six seats, enough for a party, though on this occasion there are only two of us. The proprietor insists we occupy opposite corners of the carriage, leaving a seat between us, as if to discourage funny business. He gives us 3D glasses, shuts the door, and the film begins.
To describe the 7D films in detail would spoil them (after Haunted Forest we watch Precinct 13, a steampunk monorail fantasy which was more accessible than it sounds), but suffice to say they don't disappoint. Haunted Forest features a descent into a subterranean hell, and several passably sinister scenes of skeletons dancing jaunty circles around a bonfire. The added dimensions included bubbles, wind machines and water sprayed from the mouths of animated ghouls (in hell, it seems, everyone overproduces saliva).
Sometimes there is a fine line between the seedy and the wholesome: the 7D cinema would be genuinely creepy if it wasn't so keen to entertain you. The jolt of your chair shaking and water sprayed in your face demolishes snark: we didn't come here to be ironic, but even if we had we couldn't have been if we tried. The films have a generic quality: all-purpose horror, action or fantasy engineered for perfunctory thrills. I imagine they are churned out by recently graduated animators, in the same place that produces the children's DVDs sold at Lidl. They don't have plots, or even actors, but they make up for it with mechanical gusto. It seems hardly a coincidence that the other country in which multi-dimensional cinema has taken off is North Korea, where the 4D Kim Sung-rim has won the approval of the glorious leader and reportedly attracts up to a thousand visitors per day.
Perhaps, if our Irish branch can command similar numbers, the nation will come to demand no fewer than seven dimensions from its films, and ordinary films will begin to be enhanced.
Recently released titles I believe would benefit from the 7D treatment include:
- American Hustle 7D: the cinema smells faintly of hair pomade and drying nail polish.
- Taken 7D: during the film you are kidnapped, then rescued by Liam Neeson
- The Grey 7D: a pack of real-life wolves prowl the edges of the cinema, though you are again rescued by Liam Neeson
- Boyhood 7D: The audience is kept for eleven years inside the cinema
Perhaps one day such dreams will be real, or at least closer to reality, rendered all the better for their extra five dimensions. Until then we must make do with late-night visits to Capel Street.
This article was written by Roisin Kiberd, our newest contributor. Roisin is a writer and full-time internet weirdo. Her work appears in Vice, Motherboard, the Irish Times, the Irish Independent and Totally Dublin.