the room

Photo via The Room/Wiseau-Films

Oh, hi Mark.

Oh, hi Mark. 

The Room is a cult-classic film that is revered for being as bad as it is good. Call it poor taste, but I love bad stuff. Not as in “I’m a bad boy”—I just sincerely appreciate things that suck. The Room is not just one, but one of the premier items in that “suck” category to have captivated my interest. 

The film deals with five main characters. Johnny, the protagonist and victim, is constantly getting fucked over by everyone around him as he merely tries to live his life. Lisa, his “future wife,” inexplicably cheats on him with his best friend Mark, who as a basically flat character sees the wrong in what he does (banging his best friend’s future wife), but ultimately decides that it’s fine and continues his indiscretion. Then there’s Denny, an ambiguously aged “teen” extremely into voyeurism. Lastly, we have Claudette, Lisa’s overbearing mother, who definitely has breast cancer. It’s a roller coaster of emotion and hilarity, all the laughs ironic.

As a big fan of The Room, I always feel the need to bring it up, or at least riff on its amazing dialogue. Recently, I seized an ideal opportunity to do just that. I got a wrong number text a while back that read: “What you doing future wife.” Upon receiving that, I just assumed it was a Los Angeles friend who was randomly making a The Room joke to me, to which I replied, “I don’t love you anymore. I love Mark now,” this being a plotline from the film. If this had been a friend riffing with me, they would have likely responded with a subsequent plotline joke, or even an “Lol.” I got no such reply for almost two weeks, though really made nothing of it.

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Then I got another text in the same conversation thread: “Did you get my text message last night I didn’t forget about you I love you and I can’t wait to marry you.” This reply caught me off-guard, but it also gave me a real sense of humanity. This guy was for real. And he was going to go with it. He seriously wanted to marry whoever he imagined had my phone number. 

So naturally I kept it up. I continued to roleplay as the Lisa character: “You didn’t get the promotion. You got drunk last night. And you hit me,” I responded, assuming that clearly this would blow the whole thing open; this guy knows he didn’t get drunk said night and hit a girl. Or did he? He kept at it. Even after I accused him of assault.

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“I have to do it next month...” he replied, “Mom flaked on me.” Who knows what he believed she was requesting of him. Forget about that. There were more pressing matters. This was the point when I introduced “my” (Lisa’s) mother, Claudette. “My mom definitely has breast cancer,” I texted. This is a hilarious part in the film because Claudette drops the horrendous health bomb on her daughter very casually, to which Lisa famously replies, as she will several times throughout the movie, “Don’t worry about it.” Yeah, mom, don’t worry about breast cancer, a disease that kills over 40,000 women per year in the U.S. alone. Our text message friend was also fairly unfazed, as he responded, “Sorry to hear that baby but tell your mama to get well but I’m going to do that next month for you.” Again, that thing he kept saying he’d do. Whatever, I wasn’t there to ask questions, I was there to roleplay The Room with a stranger who was texting me by accident.

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Around that time, I got bored with Lisa, and assumed the identity of Denny, the teenage neighbor who is apparently getting freebies on rent and college from Johnny, who, according to Lisa, feels like a father-figure to kid, played by Philip Haldiman, who was 26 at the time of filming, and, ironically, one of the oldest actors on set.

This was where the text conversation took a turn. “I owe Chris R. some money,” I said. In a critically inconsequential scene in the movie, Denny is on a rooftop, and a previously unknown character introduces himself to hit him up for some money he’s owed for drugs, brandishing a gun. “Chris R.” is hilarious to me because why would he have that last name initial? He is the only “Chris” in the script. Whatever. It was written by Tommy Wiseau, so why even ask questions, right? This was when I assumed Denny’s identity. In the screenplay, when Denny admits he owes Chris R. money for drugs, Lisa and her mother Claudette berate him, asking, “What kind of money?” over and over. My text message counterpart was close. “How much,” he asked. No question mark or anything. A way of wanting to know what was up, but not implying that he cared too much. “I bought some drugs off him,” I texted back immediately, true to Denny’s storyline. “He’s gone. They took him to jail,” I added quickly, recounting the befuddling storyline about how, when Johnny and Mark came up to see Chris R. bullying Denny with a gun, they manhandled him into submission, wrestling away his gun somehow, and wound up “taking him to jail,” which seems reasonable, because the police just imprison anyone civilians bring down to the precinct. Due process? Not in Tommy Wiseau’s world.

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“Who is Chris R,” my mystery texter finally asked. Being in the character of Denny, I have no intention of explaining anything bluntly and continue to explain the situation: “We had an altercation outside on the roof. Johnny and Mark stepped in and took Chris R. to the police. He’s in jail now.”

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I figured for sure this guy had had enough, and was done with this, as much as I was, exhausting most of the dialogue from the The Room already. But no, he came back, still intent on marrying his love, who was, unbeknownst to him, silly old me: “I will be back next week in Vegas I love you wifey.”

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It really made me wonder how well he knew this girl, whom he insists he will marry and who apparently had had a new phone number for some time. I felt that the star of the show, Johnny, aka Tommy Wiseau, was being underrepresented in the whole thing, so I assumed Johnny’s role last.

“They betray me, they didn’t keep their promises, they trick me, and I don’t care anymore,” I wrote, delivering Johnny’s most grandiose line. After all, I was the victim here. I never asked for these texts. This went on for a couple more days, with me playing Johnny the victim, and my text partner, well, I’m not sure either of us knows what he thinks now.

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The real point of all this is that you should be well-versed in films, especially the bad ones. And if you aren’t, just make sure you know who you’re texting. It might not be the future wife you want.
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