There are many movies that are cult-worthy and that have a large amount of fans and followers; but not many are as popular and vast as The Room. Considering how terrible the movie actually is, it is quite insane to think the amount of people who belong to its dedicated cult following, including many celebrity stars.
Everything from the actors, to the editing is a new level of awful which is exactly what makes The Room so popular. Every line is a failure and yet is quotable; every move of the actors is tragically bad and yet one cannot help to laugh and enjoy it.
This is exactly why although the movie flopped at its first screening, being labelled as “the worst movie ever”, once word had spread, the audience demanded to bring it back to the big screen, and this time they came prepared. As more and more people got into the ‘vibe’ of Tommy Wiseau’s masterpiece that is meant to reflect his relationship with Hollywood, the movie was given a cult status as its followers formed a tight bonded and creative community.
On further screenings, the fans came armed with plastic spoons, resembling the famous framed spoon from the film itself, and every time the shot of it appeared during the screenings, a thunder of spoons was thrown at the screen; this was just one of the dedicated ideas of the excited fans.
As time went by The Room has stayed just as bad, and its earned title of “worst movie ever” hasn’t been forgotten as the following of the film is still rising. And so here are the 5 main reasons why The Room became the success it is, and why its cult following overpowers even that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show.
5. The Script
Nearly every line of The Room is quotable, even if it is for all the wrong reasons. People who have not heard of or not seen the movie may still be familiar with the iconic lines that make up this masterpiece, showing just how affective they are. From James Dean inspired lines such as “You are tearing me apart” to Lisa’s favourite line of “I don’t want to talk about it” the movie is filled to the brim with lines that are so bad that they’re good.
Another part of the script that makes The Room stand out is undoubtedly the creation of new language in the form of idioms, such as “Keep your stupid comments in your pocket”, that makes you wonder why Wiseau couldn’t just stick to existing language form.
Apart from the lines and the memorable performance of them, which ultimately makes the two go hand in hand when quoting the film, what makes these lines so popular is the fact that they can be applied and used in most everyday situations, contributing to the popularity of the film and allowing fans to share the Room experience.
4. Suspending Genre Conventions
What can be better than a movie that surprises you? The Room is definitely one of those movies that throws unexpected events and plot twists at you, and what is better – it doesn’t follow through with any of them.
Although the end result came a long way from the original plan, Wiseau’s original intention was for the movie to be a drama; but of course once the audience reactions were observed he casually changed the genre to a black comedy, although even that is far from its true nature. But keeping to his primary mindset, Wiseau added a million and one elements to his story to make it as dramatic as possible.
Apart from the general plot about the unfaithful fiancée which would have been dramatic if it wasn’t so comical, every scene introduces a new dramatic conflict, from Lisa’s mum having breast cancer to Johnny’s new big client.
But the great thing about it is that these plot lines are mentioned once and are completely scrapped away seconds later, never to be referred to again, suspending the genre conventions of resolving the aroused conflict. This however, is exactly what makes The Room so unusual and entertaining.
3. The Characters
There is definitely a lot to say about the characters who are a huge influence on the massive cult following of the movie. Apart from the cringing acting that is so terrible and simultaneously exaggerated and emotionless to a new level that makes it hilarious to watch, the fictional characters themselves are ridiculous enough.
Lisa in particular constantly experiences drastic mood swings going from being romantic and affectionate towards her fiancée Johnny, to complaining and raging about his, saying she doesn’t want to marry him because he is boring the next, making the change of attitude completely random and incomprehensible considering her previous behaviour. This all, of course, just adds to the ridiculousness of it all making the movie hilarious to watch.
What is even more great, is the fact that one of the characters, Peter, is in fact played by two different actors that switch half way through the movie. Right when you think it can not get worse (or better), we realise that Peter is now played by another actor with no explanation for this whatsoever adding to the juicy chaos of the movie and adding an extra laugh because Wiseau clearly doesn’t care.
2. The Mysterious Tommy Wiseau
Something else that contributed to the movie’s success was the fact that Tommy Wiseau was a great mystery. Being a fresh name on the movie scene, Wiseau took the effort to conceal and not show off his personal life, making it extremely difficult for his fans to find out anything about this infamous auteur director, which spiked their curiosity.
Whether as another Room joke, or simply to keep his privacy, Wiseau claimed to be from the New Orleans; but his accent wasn’t tricking anyone, and it was later confirmed that he in fact had Polish roots, although his true identity remained well hidden.
Wiseau became a cult phenomenon and as more people got to know about this ridiculous director and his even more ridiculous movie, the more people wanted to know and meet the man, increasing the film’s popularity as well as the queue line to the screenings, particularly those at which Wiseau appeared himself to find out the mystery behind the man and his movie.
It is amazing to think that such an unknown director (at the time), managed to create one of the ‘biggest’ movies of our century.
1. Maybe not the right place, but definitely the right time
What influenced the success of the movie apart form the movie itself was the time of its release. Whether by strategic planning, or more likely simply luck, Wiseau’s passion project came to life in 2003; what is important about this time is that it is during this period that we experienced a huge rise of internet culture, with the stage opening up for Youtubers as well as other social media platforms, and more importantly the creation of memes and gifs. Anyone who has seen the movie will know that the lines and images from it are undoubtedly “meme-worthy”.
Due to this, the combination of the quotable scenes and the wide-reaching capability of the internet, the movie began to circulate not just by word of mouth but through this fairly new platform, making it more popular and well known, as well as encouraging the participatory culture of its already huge amount of cult followers.
It is sad to think that perhaps if Wiseau had sold his leather to finance the movie too slow or too fast, The Room wouldn’t have been the phenomenon it is today and wouldn’t have been the cult success it is.
Author Bio: Polina is an aesthete and cinephile, devoted to using the arts to revive “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll” in hopes of loosening up the world by defying the unnecessary social restrictions. When taking time off her edgy crusade she can be found soaking in a bubble bath with a Dostoevsky novel.