Tommy Wiseau’s film The Room is an American treasure.
Well, not really.
But it has my vote for the best worst film ever made.
The Room is a 2003 drama starring Tommy Wiseau, who also wrote, directed, and produced the feature. The film is primarily about a melodramatic love triangle between Johnny (played by Wiseau), his fiancée Lisa, and his conflicted best friend Mark. The Room quickly gained popularity as a cult classic, as fans found humor in the film’s many technical and narrative flaws.
I recently had the privilege of seeing the film at one of E Street Cinema’s midnight showings. The Room is part of the cinema’s “Midnight Madness” collection, and the films are shown at midnight on Friday and Saturday evenings. I arrived at the theater accompanied by my two friends, one of whom had seen the film previously. The other friend and I were in the dark, and had no idea what we were in for.
It was quite clear to me that most of the members of the audience were college-age students, fans of the film, and, most importantly, intoxicated. The line at the bar was a lengthy one, and all were talking about various scenes we were all about to see. As any first-time viewer would, I asked my friend and other moviegoers the same question- “What’s the movie about?”- and continuously received the same answer- “It just can’t be explained, you have to see for yourself.”
After waiting on the long line, and with an overpriced beer in hand, I found my seat in the packed theater, and braced myself for what I was about to experience.
The lights dimmed and the audience went wild. Within five minutes, I turned to my friend and quietly exclaimed, “What the hell is this?” I quickly realized that this film was a joke, and was so poorly written and directed that one couldn’t help but laugh at it. Between the terrible acting, awkward interactions between characters, and poorly developed plot, this movie was a terribly funny gem.
I was surprised at the amount of interaction that the audience had with the film. The guy in front of us was the loudest, often shouting out hilarious comments and adding to the dialogue. The experience reminded me of when I went to see, in which the film is accompanied by an on-stage performance in sync with what’s happening in the movie. We were lucky that we sat in one of the back rows, because members of the audience threw plastic spoons at the screen and shouted, “SPOONS!” during the scenes in which an unexplained photograph of a spoon on a coffee table was shown. A few members of the audience also took part in tossing a football throughout the aisles, which honestly made me a bit nervous. In my opinion, alcohol, darkness, and hand-eye coordination don’t mix well. A few people got hit in the head, and I’m happy to say that I was not one of them.
The film ended on a dramatic note, when Johnny (SPOILER ALERT!) shot himself in the head, quickly followed by the credits and a round of applause. All in all, the movie was worth seeing, and an experience that I won’t soon forget. I look forward to taking friends to see this film in the future. It will be rewarding when they turn to me, five minutes into the film, and whisper, “What the hell is this?”
And I can’t forget to bring the spoons.