Posted on November 14, 2015
42. ‘The Room: The Definitive Guide’ by Ryan Finnigan
I have talked about the film The Room on this blog before, when I reviewed Greg Sestero’s The Disaster Artist, but just in case you’ve somehow never heard of this totally amazing cult classic, let me enlighten you.
The Room is the one-man vanity project of an eccentric mystery man called Tommy Wiseau. Nobody knows where he comes from, or how he managed to raise the millions he paid from his own pocket to shoot the thing, but this film’s obscure origins only add to its brilliance. It is absolutely the worst film of all time. Wiseau wrote it, produced it, directed it and starred in it, alongside a cast of generally hopeless actors and in bizarre locations. It’s badly filmed, badly plotted … and so bad that it gets inside your head, fucks with your brain chemistry and actually makes you believe it’s one of the best things in the world. Honestly, the joy I feel when I watch The Room is unmatched.
And I’m not alone. This film has gained a worldwide cult following and there are now frequent cinema screenings in many countries, with in-jokes and audience participation on a level with The Rocky Horror Picture Show, and guest appearances by the actors (including, sometimes, Wiseau himself). So why so much furore? In The Definitive Guide, Finnigan describes the movie like so:
“Bad films happen all the time, but not perfectly bad. There is not a single good element in it, and that makes it fascinating.”
The Definitive Guide (which my equally Room-obsessed friend leant to me) provides an excellent way into the world of the film. It contains summaries of each scene, breaking down exactly why they are so awful and pointing out levels of awfulness that you never even noticed before. There are interviews with the actors, analysis of the emotions you feel when you watch it from the first time, and an exploration into the film’s extended universe, including Wiseau’s other work and the songs/stage plays/musicals that it has been adapted into. (I’m telling you, people go crazy for this film.)
This book which is really a collection of different essays by superfans of/people associated with the film, is really interesting, but I don’t think it gets anywhere near as good as The Disaster Artist. That book, written by fellow Room star and long-time friend of Wiseau’s, Greg Sestero, gives us so much back story and detail that it really leaves a Room fan spoiled. The Definitive Guide is a funny accompaniment to the film, and a good way to reminisce about all your favourite moments, but it doesn’t leave quite such a lasting impression as The Disaster Artist. (Actually, I’ve been meaning to reread Sestero’s book. I must do that. And then watch The Room again.)
If you’re already a superfan of the film, you will like this book. If not, you probably won’t have any idea what’s going on. If that is the case, for God’s sake go and watch The Room. I can’t emphasise enough that it will turn on its head everything you thought you knew, and absolutely change your life.
“Stage Five: Understanding. In extreme cases, you may now think that The Room is actually the best film of all time and profess a deep connection to it.”
Have you read this book or seen the film? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Want to read this? You can buy the book here.