Iris Out

Micah Paisner

Every once in a while, a film comes along that falls under the category “so bad it’s good.” Tommy Wiseau’s “The Room” is the perfect example. First released in 2003, “The Room” tells the story of the love triangle between Johnny, Lisa and Mark “with the passion of Tennesee [sic] Williams,” according to the film’s trailer.
Johnny and Lisa have been dating for five years, at least in the beginning of the film. At the end, Johnny says that they’ve been dating for seven, even though two years have not passed. Johnny’s best friend is Mark, an athletic guy that Lisa has apparently always had a small crush on.
After Johnny fails to receive a job promotion, Lisa decides that he’s boring and that she doesn’t love him anymore and turns her love to Mark. While this is the main plot, there are also a series of subplots that either make little sense or are quickly introduced and then ignored for the rest of the film.
One of these subplots involves Denny, Johnny’s adopted 18-year-old son and drugs. Drug dealer Chris R waits on the roof of the building that every character seems to live in and threatens to kill Denny before he is stopped by Johnny and Mark. Denny then admits to buying some kind of drugs.
The scene’s comedy comes from the way characters inexplicably appear and disappear from shots and the unintentionally hilarious dialogue, but the fact that the drugs are never mentioned again is what really makes the scene stand out.
During my first of four viewings of this masterpiece, I was under the impression that the film was shot on an extremely low budget. As it turns out, Wiseau spent $7 million dollars making the film.
While this may not be an overwhelming amount of money for film production nowadays, it is extremely surprising because of the terrible camerawork and sound editing – many of Wiseau’s lines are dubbed over, and his lips rarely match the sound. For comparison, consider this: The Coen brothers’ recent Oscar-nominee “A Serious Man” also cost $7 million to make.
Wiseau is truly the man behind “The Room.” Not only does he star as Johnny, but he also wrote, directed and produced the film. Wiseau has often been asked how he was able to raise $7 million to produce the film, and he vaguely responds that he imported leather jackets from Korea.
In viewing the film, it is quite clear that the majority of it was filmed on a studio set. The scenes on the roof utilize horrible green screen effects – some San Francisco landmarks even change locations.
Today, Wiseau labels the film as a black comedy, claiming that the horrible dialogue, plot discontinuities and horrific acting – mostly from Wiseau himself – were all intentional. Many critics, myself included, don’t buy this excuse. Several of the actors in the film have come out and said that Wiseau took the project very seriously and that the film was supposed to be a drama.
Whether or not this is true, Wiseau has stuck to his statements. Now, he travels around the country screening the film and participating in question-and-answer sessions with the audience.
The film has gained huge cult popularity and is referred to by many as the next “Rocky Horror Picture Show,” as it mostly shown at midnight screenings and encourages audience participation.
For example, whenever a character in the film enters a room, the audience yells, “Oh hi, [insert character name].” In the few scenes in which this doesn’t happen, members of the audience will scream out, “Who are you?!”
If you enjoy films of this nature, I strongly encourage you to go out and purchase “The Room.” It is well worth the $9 that Amazon charges. The DVD also includes an interview with Wiseau where he explains the film. It’s a must-have.