Cast your minds back to 2003.
Considered by my friends and I to be a vintage year for hip-hop music, it is also a year that seems to stick in the minds of many for its seismic historical moments. It was the year the war with Iraq began, the year in which Belgium became the second country in the world to legalize same-sex marriage, and the year Steve Jobs invented the iTunes Music Store. It was also a big year for cinema, with the 75th Academy Awards commemorating the biggest films and movie performances of the past twelve months. And while Chicago, The Pianist and The Hours are deservedly remembered for their emotional intensity, intellectual power and sheer style, 2003 can also be remembered for introducing one of the most bemusing films of all time to the big screen. While the power players in Hollywood engaged in a night of gratuitous backslapping, a force infinitely more terrifying and hilarious was emerging from the shadows. Ladies and gentlemen, I am of course talking about Tommy Wiseau’s cult classic The Room.
Feeling a little confused? Don’t worry, you’re not alone – my first encounter with The Room only came last week. Buried deep in essay notes and PowerPoint presentation despair, I found solace in a Funny or Die article which listed seven of the worst line deliveries of all time. It was a rib tickling collection of clips that had to be seen to be believed, and so I made of point of sharing this amusement with my friends for a bit of light revision relief. It was through this article, which featured a clip from The Room, that I learned all about this cinematic masterpiece.
Entirely funded and created by Tommy Wiseau (an auteur for the modern age? …ok, maybe not), the film is a bizarre paradox of humour and excruciatingly bad acting, following the story of an all-round good guy who is betrayed by both his fiancée and his best friend, who bunk up behind his back. And although Wiseau has since claimed that the film was made to be a black comedy all along, it has been viewed both by audiences and cast members as a catastrophically bad drama, made comic only by its flawed narrative and stilted performances. With only a 33% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, it is perhaps unsurprising that it is considered to be one of the worst movies of all time.
Obviously, this knowledge only made me want to see it even more. Therefore, my History teammates and I proposed to celebrate the end of our project by watching The Room in all its diabolical glory. When the fateful day of freedom finally came (huzzah!), we sat ourselves down with a sense of dread and excitement. Armed with cheap red wine – thank you Sainsbury’s – we knew that we were about to either go through the best 99 minutes of our lives, or essentially waste precious time on an experience that we would never be able to erase from our minds. The stakes were high.
So you can imagine my relief only minutes later when I realised that we were about to witness unintentional comedy gold. I struggle to find the words to truly encapsulate my thoughts and feelings at this time, but I can certainly say that the whole event was stunning. Akin to an out-of-body experience, I stared on in horror and amusement as Wiseau’s melodramatic love story unfolded. And while I knew in every fibre of my being that this film was undeniably terrible in every sense of the word, I couldn’t tear my eyes away. It was so, so wrong, but felt oh-so-right. For an hour and a half I was transported into a parallel universe, complete with dubious ADR, painful line deliveries and improbable plot twists – what’s with the random drug dealing? Why is their neighbour Denny so creepy? And who the hell were the random couple that broke into Johnny’s flat to have sex?! These are questions that I fear will never be answered.
In order to truly appreciate the absurdity of this film, you have to push all film snobbery aside. If you watch this as a realistic drama, you’re going to want to top yourself within five minutes. That much is guaranteed. However, if you like crappy B-movies with zero quality or substance, you need look no further. With a (VERY LARGE) glass of wine in hand, and with similarly childish friends by your side, this may well be one of the best nights of your life.
Above is a clip of some of the films most stunning moments. It may make you want to tear your eyeballs out, but the payoff from a comedic perspective cannot be put into words. Truly, it is a film that keeps on giving. So, if you’re feeling brave, give The Room a shot. And please don’t sue me if you want the 99 minutes of your life back.
Melanie Christie is a second year student at the University of Edinburgh. She studies English Literature and History. She likes to think that her cultural interests make her slightly more interesting. She also spends a great deal of her time basking in her fox onesie, has a profound weakness for chocolate, and is a proud Hufflepuff – that’s loyalty for you, folks!
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