– by David Morgan-Brown
Eleven years ago, a film was released upon the world which has since left a disturbing wound on the face of arts and entertainment that our culture will never be able to recover from. That film is The Room, a so-bad-its-good movie that soon dethroned Plan 9 from Outer Space as the Citizen Kane of terrible movies. That 1950s classic, and other cult terrible films like Manos: Hands of Fate and Troll 2 have been making audiences across the globe laugh and cringe, but The Room seems to transcend this category of film – the dialogue is hilariously inane on an outer-globular level, it is frequently technically inept, the sex scenes are overlong and horrifying, the narrative is all over the shop and is completely misplaced, many scenes serve no purpose to the plot at all, and Tommy Wiseau’s face and badly dubbed voice just make me feel violated. On top of all this are the more subtle moments of horror, such as the most tiff dog acting ever, the alien goiter trying to burst out of Lisa’s neck during one scene, dreadful green-screen work, Lisa’s mum’s breast cancer diagnosis that goes completely unnoticed, little Denny’s creepy demeanour (“I just like to watch”), and the many framed photos of spoons that decorate the house. It was intended to be an American classic along the lines of Rebel Without a Cause, but instead it accidentally ended up being one of the greatest comedy and surrealist films ever miraculously conceived.
The auteur behind this creation, the disturbingly enigmatic Tommy Wiseau, wrote, directed, independently financed and starred as the main character (Johnny) in this abomination of narrative cinema that has pleased thousands (perhaps millions) over the past few years. There is no other film that has been screened at Luna Leederville as many times as The Room (which has held screenings of this film every now and again for a number of years now) let alone a non-recent film that came out almost a dozen years ago. The dedicated Roomies fan-base of Perth have swamped the cinema every time, this awful film manages to draw in a crowd of cult followers similar to that of the Rocky Horror Picture Show, though this film is an assault on the senses and intellect of the audience only by accident.
Last Monday’s screening was a special show, as the film’s star Greg Sestero (Mark) made a special appearance at the cinema (his first time in Perth), showings fans a documentary detailing The Room’s unusual success (and providing some rarely seen footage of Tommy Wiseau, including an unused commercial he once made). He also read from The Room’s original theatre script with the assistance of some audience members (who were better actors than anyone in the movie) and he read a small passage from his book ‘The Disaster Artist’ which details the behind the scenes of the horrific making of the film as well as Greg’s unusual and sometimes volatile friendship with Tommy – this book may answer many questions fans had, but it also seems to provoke many more questions. After signing some books and posters (and who knows what else), the packed-out screening took place and it’s one of the loudest, messiest, spooniest shows I’ve ever experienced. This level of communal spirit is even greater than that of churches or Parliament House, for a Roomie to see this film at one of these special Luna screenings is to be part of a shared joy that lasts the entire 96 minute running time. I’ve seen The Room with friends, on my own, and with my dog, but nothing competes with the experience of seeing it on the big screen, where all the horrible nuances of the film can be seen in all their glory, and with a rowdy crowd who cheer and jeer as the film presents its unstoppable horridness onto its brilliantly receptive audience. I would only recommend not seeing the film this way if you wish to have all audience members quiet, seated throughout the film’s entirety, not shouting out at the screen, and if you don’t want to be bombarded with airborne plastic spoons.