Tommy Wiseau's 'magnificent', maligned The Room has replaced The Rocky Horror Picture show as the cult movie du jour, and has for years drawn self-aware cinephiles out to celebrate one of the worst movies ever made, at enthusiastic public screenings.
Just as Rocky Horror developed into an immersive live cinema event, with die-hard fans dressing up, doing the Time Warp again (and again), and reciting lines and playing games in a rowdy cinema, The Room, too, has fast developed a following for its own set of rituals that one to ought to observe, if one wants to maximise one's viewing experience.
Most of the film's interactive elements were first developed by the cult audiences of Los Angeles, and have since evolved and been adopted by rowdy audiences worldwide. If you haven't seen The Room in a movie theatre with the heightened enthusiasm of a large audience, there is considerable pleasure to be found in recreating the experience at home, via SBS Viceland (Wednesday 13 January at 10:15 pm).
If you want to play along with the delightfully awful film, here are a few of the games you might want to play while you watch.
Legend has it that when they filmed The Room, nobody thought to change the pictures that came with the frames when they dressed the set. As a result, every picture frame on screen shows a picture of generic artwork of spoons. When you see spoon art on screen, that's your time to throw one or many plastic spoons in the direction of the screen. You can compliment this action by shouting out the word 'Spoon!'
Yes, people sitting in front of you are likely to be hit with countless feather-light plastic spoons. That's the social cost of experiencing The Room.
The film notoriously goes in and out of focus a number of times. When you see the film get a little fuzzy, shout out 'Focus!'. Of course, when the film comes back into focus during a sex scene, be sure to scream out "Unfocus!"
It's business time
During the aforementioned sex scenes, distract from your own revulsion by shouting "You're doing it wrong" as you bear witness to Johnny thrusting in the vague direction of Lisa's navel.
As we all know, great filmmaking requires all characters to greet one another each and every time they enter the scene. Call out these quality moments by shouting out "Hi" to Mark, Johnny, or Denny, the loveable scamp, whenever they enter the scene.
Of course, it's just good manners to also shout "Goodbye, Denny!" when he leaves the room, too.
Acknowledge your complicity in the misogyny by shouting "Cos you're a woman!"
As fun as The Room is to watch, particularly with a group of people, there is a disturbing aspect of it that makes it a difficult text: the overt misogyny of the film. The relationship between Johnny and Lisa is highly problematic. Audiences are all too aware of the film's "woman problem" and have devised a snappy make-good to insert into the interactive conversation between us and the film. Anytime Lisa does, well, pretty much anything, shout, "'Cos you're a woman!" and bada bing, bada boom, her motives are explained, and you get in a sly dig at Tommy's casual misogyny.
Trust me, there are a at least half a dozen examples where it is perfect.
"Go! Go! Go! Go!"
Several times the film features tracking shots of the Golden Gate Bridge, with the camera panning only two-thirds of the way across the length of the iconic structure. It is essential that you chant "Go! Go! Go! Go!" as the camera makes its way across, and groan with disappointment when the camera fails to reach the end of the bridge.
Except for that one time when the camera does make it across the bridge, at which point cheer your hardest, because obviously.
Kiss from a rose
As special as The Room is as a cinema experience, it is nothing compared to the raw power of its soundtrack. The song 'You Are My Rose' is played over the film's horrendous sex scenes (yes, that's plural, sorry). It's either testament to the earworm potential of this bland R&B song, or a sign that audiences are desperate for any distraction from having to watch the sex scenes (to restate this point, there are more than one), it's common for people to get to their feet and have a dance breack/singalong to 'You Are My Rose', with the light of a smartphone to enhance the mood.
Here, have a practice.
“Who the f**k are you?”
Inexplicably, and at the 30-minute mark, two new characters are introduced - Michelle and Mike. Oh, and then there's Peter, Johnny's psychologist friend who is recast and replaced by a different actor halfway through the film. When any of these strangers show up, it is customary to shout out "Who the f**k are you?" at the screen.
Let's play ball
Tommy Wiseau is an all-American guy, so, obviously his character Johnny will use any opportunity to play football. There are several scenes in The Room where the characters are seen throwing around a football together, including one ill-advised football-throwing trip into the alley outside while all of the characters are wearing wedding suits (no, we don't know why).
Prepare yourself for a ball-tossing scene by dressing up and playing ball.
Watch 'The Room'
Wednesday 13 January, 10:15pm on SBS VICELAND (NOTE: No catch-up at SBS On Demand)
Genre: Drama, Romance
Director: Tommy Wiseau
Starring: Tommy Wiseau, Juliette Danielle, Greg Sestero, Philip Haldiman