Earlier this week I was invited out by my coursemates to a screening of The Room. It was a thing I had heard of only in vague, half-whispers, and I knew virtually nothing about it. I said, “sure, why not.” I had no idea what I was in for.
For those of you as ignorant as I was, The Room is a film directed by Tommy Wiseau, produced by Tommy Wiseau, written by Tommy Wiseau, and starring… well lets just say not Tom Cruise. Released in 2003, it was obliterated by critics in a manner so complete that it could only have been bettered by a tactical nuclear strike, and now holds the rather dubious privilege of being considered the worst movie of all time.
And it was this, once described as “the Citizen Kane of crap”, that I had unwittingly agreed to see.
I found this out only a few days before the actual event. I had neglected googling it since I hadn’t wanted to “ruin” it for myself, and by that point it was a bit late to pull out. I arrived at the cinema thinking this would be either ok, or ninety-nine minutes of my life I would never see again.
Turns out it was neither of those things. When the film began the atmosphere was more like that of a football game or a rock concert than a cinema. The audience’s enthusiasm was so intense as to be measurable only on the Richter scale and to be perfectly honest, it was just a little bit amazing.
The phenomenon of the film that is “so bad it’s good” is not a new one. I may never have borne witness to classics such as Sharknado or Birdemic, but I have seen Mega Shark Versus Giant Octopus. At the time I was incensed by the fact that an enormous shark could swim fast enough to leap out of the sea and rip a cruising jumbo jet in half, yet couldn’t catch a submarine with a top speed of maybe thirty knots.
The Room, however, laughs at such minor inconsistencies. These words are bandied about a lot, but words genuinely cannot adequately express how monumentally terrible it is as a piece of cinema. As an experience though, it is unparalleled. The audience interact with the film continually and viscerally. An example of this is the aforementioned spoon. I understand that the eponymous room was furnished somewhat haphazardly, and so the picture frames still contain the stock images they did when they were bought. This has resulted in the protagonist having a picture of a spoon inexplicably framed on his coffee table. Every time this appears the audience lets out a cry as one. “Spoon!” they roar, over and over as if in a frenzy, and then the air is filled with disposable plastic spoons that they brought along especially for the purpose.
The film’s mad cinematography is engaged with just the same as the spoon. Every time the camera cuts to a shot of San Francisco where the film is set, and it does this an unconscionable amount, the audience rhythmically chants “Meanwhile in San Fran-cis-co!”
Honestly I could go on, really I could, for a long time, but I won’t. I’ll say just this more. The Room is a truly terrible film, but watching it was one of the most incredible experiences I have ever had in a cinema. It’s something that has to be seen to be believed.
Just don’t watch it alone, it really isn’t that sort of movie.