More than one person showed up in a tuxedo. A few wore long black whigs and carried footballs under their arms. It is a ten minutes before “The Room” is scheduled to start and there is a line out the door at the Kimball Theater in Colonial Williamsburg. And it’s growing.
Unusually, the appeal of this particular showing is not that “The Room” is a good movie, but that it is arguably one of the worst ever.
Fans of this film provide several reasons why it is a terrible production, and then go on about how much they enjoy it.
“It’s worse than you imagine,” Lex Powell ’10, a self-proclaimed fan of “The Room” for several years, said. “It just doesn’t succeed on any level.”
CJ Bergin ’11 agreed.
“It’s so bad that it boomeranged around and became one of my favorite movies,” he said of the film.
“The Room,” directed by Tommy Wiseau, documents the love triangle between a man, his future wife, and his future wife’s lover, who also happens to be the main character’s best friend. Other characters and subplots surface throughout the course of the movie, many of which are unexplained and left hanging. The film has earned an abysmal 33 percent fresh rating from RottenTomatos.com, where critics agree that poor acting, editing and production, coupled with a bizarre script, ensure that “The Room” is baffling to viewers and relates little to actual existence.
“It’s astonishing how someone who has lived among other humans his entire life could so thoroughly fail to comprehend human interaction,” Ginger Nealon ’11 said of Wiseau, who not only directed the film, but wrote it and starred in it as well. “Movies are supposed to capture some aspect of humanity, and “The Room” has nothing even close to that, but it’s definitely one of my favorite things to watch.”
Since its 2003 release, the independent film has been mocked and torn apart by critics worldwide. It has also generated a cult following of people who make its viewing an interactive experience. They bring props for certain parts of the movie, shout things at the screen, and heckle the actors.
“It’s not about the movie itself, but about the experience,” Kimball Production Manager Todd Cooke said. “People take on characters with the film.”
“[Watching The Room] is an interactive experience,” Bergin said. “If you passively watch it, you’ll fall asleep. It’s too absurd to watch and not make fun of.”
Powell, Nealon and Bergin said they agree with multiple critics that “The Room” is one of the worst movies ever made. This criticism was given based on the assumption that the film was intended to be a drama.
However, since its release, Wiseau has said he meant it to be a “black comedy.” This is disputable because the movie was marketed as a serious work, and the majority of fans simply consider it to be a failed drama. Wiseau was even given the chance to direct an episode of Adult Swim’s “Tim and Eric’s Awesome Show, Great Job!” in an attempt to further support his comic efforts.
“If it were meant to be funny, there would be jokes that make sense,” Powell said.
“He absolutely meant for it to be a drama,” Nealon said. “When the audience at the premiere just laughed and laughed, he had some idea that it was humorous to other people, so he re-branded it.”
“The Room” is based on a book written by Wiseau.
“The book was not intended to be comedic, so I don’t know why the movie would be,” Bergin said.
Many fans have theories about this movie, including that the director is an alien and that the entire production is a money-laundering scheme for the Mafia. Nealon’s theory is that Wiseau is taking “emotional revenge” on a woman who treated him badly in his past.
Regardless of the film’s origin, its popularity as an interactive experience is growing. This is the second time “The Room” is being shown in the Kimball Theater. Cooke said that the first time they showed it, there was a good turnout of people.“The Room” continues to grow in fame as the years continue, attracting larger crowds. This connects it to an alternative cultural movement that may immortalize it forever.
The showing drew more than 120 people to the theater, the vast majority of them students at the College.
“We try to position ourselves to be [part of the cultural movement],” Cooke said of the Kimball Theater. “That is what we strive for. Having the College right there is a perfect opportunity to achieve it.”