(On DVD, October 2003) I didn’t want to see Tommy Wisseau’s The Room as much as I was morbidly curious about it. Having recently acquired some kind of cult notoriety as one of the worst movies ever made, The Room has spawned a few Internet memes and toured the continent in special audience-participation screenings à la Rocky Horror Picture Show. Alas, the first thing that comes to mind while watching The Room is that we don’t have the cult classics we used to have. Amateurish and incompetent in nearly every facet of moviemaking, The Room has the feel of a vanity project gone horribly wrong, possibly thanks to a producer/writer/director/actor (Wisseau) unable to tell between good and bad, and unwilling to listen to saner heads. Pick an aspect of movies, and The Room sucks at it. The premise presupposes entities without recognizable human emotions. Dialogues feel like the first draft of a first student project. The tone of the film changes from one line to another. The direction is flat. The acting is uncontrolled, starting from Wisseau’s constant ha-has. Even the scene blocking is worse than the average local theater company. The pacing grinds to a halt whenever it hits one of the four too-lengthy soft-core love scenes. Subplots are raised and then never mentioned again. Whatever nice things one may say about the stock San Francisco exteriors are destroyed by their tone-deaf usage as scene transitions. And so on. The issue here isn’t that the film is terrible: I’m sure that there are plenty of other terrible movies buried away somewhere. The real wonder here is The Room’s unexplainable notoriety as an Internet phenomenon. Granted, the so-bad-it’s-good crowd self-selects itself out of any kind of artistic rationale. Still, the fairest way to describe the movie is dull: I started watching it with the best of intentions, and eventually idly started surfing the web as the rest of the movie played without too much surprise or variance in quality. At least I can now place “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” or “Oh, hi Mark” in their proper, incomprehensible context. Given that Wisseau is riding the film’s newfound popularity as an incompetent comedy by showing it in theaters, those of you still convinced that The Room can’t be missed will have trouble renting it or even buying it online; all I can say is that this is the universe’s way of telling you that you’re better off doing something else.