Event Cinema: The Room
The Room: 10 years after it was released, this has become the greatest cult film of our time. In the UK there are currently two (very well-worn) 35mm prints that endlessly tour the country, hopping from one independent cinema to the next. These screenings however are like no cinematic experience you could ever imagine. Remember the established Cinema Code of Conduct that us hardened movie goers live by… bin it.
Aberdeen’s Belmont Cinema showed this for the first time in over a year, late last Friday night. Upon entering this screening, there was a very unusual atmosphere. Dozens of people were grasping handfuls of white plastic spoons, which rattled throughout the movie like background chatter, people dressed in over sized suits / tuxedos with shaggy black wigs and shades (inside a darkened theater), American footballs being thrown around – crashing against the odd unsuspecting head, and a whole lot of shouting, heckles and laughter. The cinema was absolutely buzzing and the lights hadn’t even gone down yet.
The origins of the movie are equally unique. It started off as a failed play, then an unpublishable book, before Tommy Wiseau (above) decided to turn it in to a film that he would star in, write, produce, direct, cast and distribute himself – to keep artistic control, of what is easily one of the worst vanity projects in human history. Initially flopping on its small release, it quickly built up momentum on the midnight movie circuit in America and has been screened all over the globe for the past ten years.
The film itself is absolutely god-awful: I’ve seen movies made from editing several separate films together to try to make a single narrative that have worked better (and made more sense) than this. The acting is absolutely tragic. The script feels like it was written by a nursery class. Characters just walk into a scene, spit some melodramatic lines, then walk off, often to never re-appear. There’s next to no continuity in any of the scenes. I genuinely don’t think anyone could make a film this bad, no matter how hard they tried. It’s a crashing car that flips for 99 minutes.
Yet it’s this level of previously uncharted terribility that makes the experience of seeing the room like no other. Nobody’s there to watch it, they’re all there to enjoy it. I’ve seen 1-2 films a week for the past fifteen years and can only remember a handful of standout cinema visits: James Bond opening nights, birthday trips, first-dates etc… All of these pale in comparison to the thrill of watching The Room in a sold-out theater with die-hard fans and wide-eyed first-timers.
As a movie-going experience The Room is fascinating, electrifying, unique, but above all else – stunningly entertaining. Everybody was grinning ear to ear for the duration. It got a King’s Speech style standing ovation at the end, more laughs than Anchorman, more whoops than Rocky and more audience participation than a sing-a-long Broadway show. To watch a download on your laptop, or a DVD in your front room would kill the very essence of the film. If you ever get the chance to see this in a cinema you have to cancel any weddings, funerals, graduations, anniversaries and buy yourself a ticket.
Film score: UNRATABLE
Audience participation checklist for a screening of The Room.
Spoons: the main room in the movie has far too many framed pictures of spoons. Every time one of them hits the screen the audience loses their shit, yells “SPOOONS!!!” and a torrent of white plastic cutlery is thrown towards the screen. It’s like the arrow scenes from The 300… hundreds of white streaks flying overhead. Happens around a dozen times and never gets boring. Fact: it took 3 people +90 minutes to pick all the spoons up after the screening (remnants pictured left)
Hi / Bye!! when any central character enters of leaves a scene everyone hollers “Hi Denny / Bye Denny” in an eerily sincere manner, whilst waving at the screen. The exception being that when Lisa appears she’s greeted with Boooos, hissses and quick-fire bursts of the word ‘SLUT!’.
San Francisco: between most scenes there are establishing shots of San Francisco. Alcatraz, steep hills, trams, iconic houses and the Golden Gate bridge. Any time these appeared the audience yells “Meanwhile, in San Francisco”.
Go! Go! Go!: in any above mentioned establishing shots that are slow-pans the audience claps, stamps, and yells “go, go, go’ for the duration.
Chicken dance: there’s at least three times when a character is called out for being a chicken, and the people in the room burst in to an Arrested Development style ‘CHEEP CHEEP CHEEP’ with flappy arms. Naturally, everyone in the cinema does this too.
Sex Scenes: for a 99 minute movie, there’s at about five lengthy sex scenes – two of which are the exact same footage. Cue lighters in the air, yells of “bewbs!!!!”, and synchronised hand-clapping to the awful romance music. Of all the Men and Motors, Bravo and Babestation nudity you’ll have ever seen in your life, nothing compares to the cold, awkward, physically impossible, ass-bearing, petal-blowing ‘sex scenes’ of The Room.
American Football: about every 20 minutes, for no reason, characters start tossin’ a pig skin around. Guess what everyone in the theater starts doing…
General, infamous, dialogue: You know when these are coming because the die-hard fans will hush the screen in to silence in the run up to some of the best and worst delivered lines in cinematic history. “Oh hi Mark!“, “YOU’RE TEARING ME APART LISA!!!”, “I got the results of the test back – I definitely have breast cancer“, “anyway, how’s your sex life?“, “She’s showing everybody me underwears“, “Leave your stupid comments in your pocket”, “Well we’ll Seeee, Denny, don’t plan too much, it may not come out right”… Every line was followed by an uproar of laughter, yelling and cheering.
There’s nothing else left to say other than seek this out and see it as soon as you can.
There really is nothing like seeing The Room in a packed theater. Allegedly Greg Sestero is working on a book about the filming process of The Room. I really hope he finishes it because that would be a damn fun read.
Think I’ll be avoiding any extra merchandise from The Room – would probably buy a Football, not much else. Great experience though.
I saw this movie on YouTube. I’ll admit, I think I missed out by not seeing it in theaters, but it was still an other-wordly experience.
Yea, don’t think there’s another way you could watch this and enjoy it outside a packed theater. I’d definitely check it out again if you get the chance.