The Room is the worst film I’ve ever seen. Maybe that anybody has ever seen. Dubbed “the Citizen Kane of bad movies” in Entertainment Weekly, it’s a shambling, low-budget train wreck of a film, with cringe-worthy dialogue, high school-level acting, lousy effects and a wispy plot.
So why do audiences flock to see it? For all of those reasons.
Produced by and starring Tommy Wiseau, a Fabio-esque actor with an Eastern European accent and an apparent blind eye for his own shortcomings, The Room has, in the last few years, become a cult classic — six years after its initial release. It’s played to packed houses in Los Angeles, Austin, Chicago, New York and elsewhere. Audiences have even turned it into a new kind of Rocky Horror Picture Show, with raucous audience interaction and projectiles. (Magic Lantern, I hope you’re reading this.)
But unlike with Rocky Horror, they’re celebrating the film’s utter badness. The story of a man (Wiseau) whose fiancé cheats on him, it’s like a how-not-to for aspiring filmmakers. The chronology is hazy. Characters drop in and out of the film. Several scenes are entirely pointless. Fully 10 minutes are given to soft-core sex scenes, complete with fuzzy lighting and squealing ’90s guitars.
But the worst of it is Wiseau. Most of his garbled dialogue (including on the DVD extras) is over-dubbed. In a scene that shamelessly (and poorly) imitates James Dean’s cry in Rebel Without a Cause, Wiseau balls his fist and yells, “You are tearing me apart, Lisa!” Far from arresting, it’s unintentionally hilarious.
And that’s the weirdest part about The Room. Despite the fact that the movie has become a joke, Wiseau himself often presides at screenings, and he asserts (in interviews and in the extras) that he is proud of the film — that it is, indeed, an ingenious black comedy, a satire that needs to be seen multiple times in order to be fully comprehended.
He may be right. But it’s not the deeper meanings that audiences are going back for. It’s the nuanced layers of pure shit. (Rated R)