Review by: Menstrual Bazin
SCUM Rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
It is with great audacity that I attempt to review the movie that is THE very definition of what a cult movie is. Something that S.C.U.M’s wet dreams are made of. We all recognise it as one of, if not, the top “so-bad-it’s-awesome” movie of all time. Such a status comes along with lots of tongue-in-cheek reviews, write ups, memes, fan service etc…. Legions of loyal fans + regular special screenings have in the last decade, elevated this once obscure box office bomb into God crazy level of cult-dom… and still growing. Instead of waxing lyrical about it or rehash its history, I will give it the fair service by reviewing it straight. Hard, but I shall try.
Oh yes, there are also many seemingly inconsequential bits eg. Lisa’s mother having cancer, Johnny valiantly saving his wayward kid friend (played by adult) from a hoodlum and drugs. Male bonding with football and asking about each other’s sex life. The list goes on…
If you where having a steady diet of straight, non-B grade /Merchant Ivory/John Hughes/Hollywood mainstream fair and suddenly expose yourself to this, your whole being would react strongly to it. Everything screams – Awkward! Beauty of this is because most bad movies are either bad because of budget or taste. Many try to be deliberately ‘bad’. The Room however, earnestly tries to be a properly good movie. It’s even shot on 35mm and have a budget of USD$6 million! A rare event that such amount of gross incompetence, aligns itself with ambition and vanity, been granted such funding and complete artistic control. Nothing else like this has, to my knowledge, ever happened.
Nothing genuinely funny in this movie has been done deliberately. Yet I can’t stop laughing throughout – Especially when watching with other people…. Here lies the problem. If you are reading this, most likely you are like myself, exposed to an unhealthy level of trash. i.e. you can, by now, be engrossed in a movie, even if it looks like the “story part” scenes of a porno movie – without the porn. If Joe Sarno ever made movies without any sex, nudity or humour, you would still sit through it without reaching for your mobile phones. Yes, problematic is watching The Room alone… After the initial period of acclimatising, I got engrossed into the story. I overlook all the bad acting, bad wardrobe, fake rear projection, etc. It is really like suspension of belief. You do that more when you watch theatre. You do that now when you watch 1980’s rear projected Christopher Reeves as superman. … you block out things you know to make what you see plausible. Eg. You don’t question why Vampire Slaying superhero “Blade” is actually a tranny in “to Wong Foo..”
And that’s when the trouble begins…. The Room starts to become a normal movie (not a particularly good one). I start to get into the flow of the story and start feeling for the wooden characters. I can’t seem to get the songs “You’re My Rose” and “I Will” out of my mind for the next few weeks and the tragedy of Johnny lingers with me. No matter how hilariously bad the execution, my mind filters it all out and the core of the story starts to engage me.
But fear not – there is power in watching as a crowd. Much like the presence of attentive hipsters in a Tsai Ming Liang movie stops you from sleeping or walking out….Watching The Room in one of those regular screenings where people quote, laugh, dress up and throw spoons etc…will immerse you in the power of the crowd. In this church of the cinema, there is no chance of losing yourself in Wiseau’s world. The crowd will pull you back to reality and constantly remind you what made The Room one of the greatest cult epic of all time.