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By Jada Cheek 

The interactive experience that is The Room was memorable to say the least, and in a way, inspiring. Evidently, anyone can make a movie! I went into The Independent Picture House screening earlier this month with no knowledge of its plot or content other than what I could gather from my coworkers’ increasing pitch and slightly menacing laughter after asking, “You’ve never seen it before?” 

Now that I have seen it, I can confidently say it’s as if a Valentine’s Day commercial met an episode of Law and Order and was directed by a very convincing alien. Despite having five sex scenes in its 100 minute runtime, the film is shot and edited like an episode of Criminal Minds, which, once acknowledged, makes the watch much more entertaining. Every character at any given time looks simultaneously ready to make porn and reveal themself as the murderer. No one looks as if they know what R&B stands for, yet it pops up every 20 minutes, an interesting choice indeed! The ambience is so confusing it is almost genius, as there’s not a moment when you fully understand what’s happening and you have to keep watching out of spite, to see how the creators could possibly conclude such a story.

Though I didn’t know much going into the film, one thing I expected, and heavily anticipated, was the spoon throwing. If you are unfamiliar, a photograph of a spoon randomly appears in the background at several points, so it’s become a tradition for audiences, poking fun at the odd choice of set decoration, to yell “SPOONS” and throw spoons at the screen – and boy, did they. The screenings are also open to sarcastic commentary. An audience member I grew particularly fond of routinely yelled “BECAUSE SHE’S A WOMAN” at every inherently sexist writing choice. To that audience member, you made my night. Thank you, whoever you are. It was a joy to be around such an excitable crowd full of laughter and with a thirst for plastic spoons. The quirkiness of The Room, of course, is renowned, but it’s the character of its fans that make it a phenomenon. Being a newcomer, I was delighted to take in the film with fans who added their own sense of humor to the experience, and it was an experience I could only get at The Independent Picture House. 

I’ve seen The Room categorized as a drama and romantic comedy, but I think it defies both. Surely, films created by the socially unaware should be a genre of their own. I would be an avid watcher if I could be as captivated in confusion as I was with this film. It plays similarly to how kids play with dolls — characters entering rooms uninvited, without closing doors, only to exit that same room literally seconds later. 

Greg Sestero, who plays Mark, attended both the Friday and Saturday screening at The Independent Picture House to give live commentary and answer questions from the audience. But I was left with questions only Tommy Wiseau, the movie’s writer, director and star, could answer: How many balls does the average American hold a week and why was that number increased by 200% in this film? What bank allows its employees to look so unkempt? Did Denny ever give that guy his money? Why are the camera angles so intrusive during the sex scenes? Has Tommy Wiseau ever spoken to a woman? Do we all agree Denny is definitely the killer in said Criminal Minds episode? 

The World According to Tommy Wiseau: 

  • Old women are divorced, have issues with their house, get breast cancer and live vicariously through their daughter. 
  • Young women have sex, lie, care for men, have sex again, hate their mom, get abused, have sex again and giggle. 
  • The average American holds drinks, holds balls and is capable of committing random acts of violence.

People change. It’s been 20 years, and Wiseau may feel differently. But I see myself revisiting The Room when I need a reminder that anything is possible if you can get the money, and films can be objectively bad yet still worth the watch.

Jada Cheek is a photographer and cinematographer who loves local jazz nights and hyper-specific comedies. You can keep up with her visual art at @jadas.photoalbum. 
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