Movies like “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” garner audience participation and mass followings thanks to their fantastic plots. “The Room” has received the same response at The Drexel Theatre and nationwide, but for a different reason.
“It’s the best worst movie you’ll ever see,” said Michael Rousselet, a contributor to 5-Second Films, a website that produces 5-second films every week day.
He would know — he was the spark that began the cult-like following that surrounds the movie.
Thomas Davis, an assistant English professor, agrees with Rousselet.
“It’s like watching a car wreck; you can’t stop watching,” Davis said.
The film, as described on the official movie website, theroommovie.com, is an “electrifying American black comedy about love, passion, betrayal and lies,” and poses the question: “Can you ever really trust anyone?”
The film is about a man named Johnny, played by the movie’s director and producer Tommy Wiseau, who is set to wed his fiancée Lisa, played by Juliette Danielle. It turns out that Lisa is a manipulative woman who will stop at nothing to get what she wants, including Johnny’s best friend Mark, played by Greg Sestero.
The movie follows these characters as their relationships disintegrate, and Johnny falls victim to the level of trust and devotion he places in each of his relationships with the other characters.
Full of gratuitous sex scenes and salutations, the movie was originally advertised as an “electrifying drama with the passion of Tennessee Williams,” Rousselet said.
“It’s bad without being ironic,” Davis said. “It believes in its own sincerity.”
Rousselet said, “From the trailer I thought it was kind of self aware and dry in humor, making fun of melodramas, kind of like ‘The Royal Tenenbaums,’ weird but funny. When I saw the actual movie, I didn’t know what to think, I just started laughing.”
“It makes no sense cinematically,” Davis said. “It’s the worst movie on every conceivable level.”
That kind of reaction is what caused Rousselet to call a few other friends, before the movie had even finished, to come and see the next showing of “The Room.”
“I saw it four times in three days,” Rousselet said.
Throughout those viewings, Rousselet and his friends began trying to figure out how to “Rocky Horror” the show.
“On YouTube we have a posting explaining in detail everything that goes on during the show,” said Guy Alexander, manager at Drexel Theatre. “They’re called ‘The Room Explained: Part One’ and ‘The Room Explained: Part Two.'”
Both are narrated by Nathan Zoebl, the employee who runs the program at The Drexel. The behaviors displayed at a showing are similar in fashion to those of “Rocky Horror.”
One of the more well-known actions is the throwing of plastic spoons at the screen when an unexplained framed picture of a spoon appears in the background.
“I pointed out the spoon in the picture frame,” Rousselet said. “We’re not sure who first brought the spoons, but we’ve narrowed it down to three people. I wish I could take credit for it, but I have to give credit where credit is due.”
Other behaviors seen during the movie include the passing of a football between audience members whenever the male characters have bonding time on screen or the wearing of a red dress similar to the one Johnny gives Lisa at the beginning of the movie.
Viewers are encouraged to yell along with the most notorious lines from the movie, the most famous of which is: “You are tearing me apart Lisa!”
“I wasn’t aware of all the pageantry the first time I went to see it in the theater,” Davis said. “But there seemed to have been plenty of plastic spoons to go around.”
“My friends and I came up with nearly half of all the comments said during the movie,” Rousselet said. “But I can still see it and see new things the audience is evolving.”
Rousselet said he first saw the movie in an empty theater in 2003, but by the end of its regular run in theaters, he had nearly 100 people going to the showings.
“Tickets sales went up when we started going,” he said.
The film was produced on a $6 million budget, according to IMBD.com. But Davis said Wiseau has kept quiet on how he got the money.
“That is unheard of,” Rousselet said, “It’s all interiors and a green screen.”
Davis said part of what drove costs up is that the movie was shot in two types of film at the same time.
“It was shot in both 35mm and HD film,” Rousselet said. “In theory it could have been in 3-D because it was shot with two cameras side-by-side.”
The mysterious actor and director, Wiseau, is another part of the draw people have to this film.
“I think part of his intrigue is his complete mystery,” Rousselet said. “Who could direct a movie like this? The mystery is bigger than the man himself.”
Davis agrees that Wiseau makes the movie more appealing.
“He is what he seems to be,” Davis said. “But I’m waiting for the moment he comes out of his accent and tells people he pulled the greatest trick in the history of cinema.”
Both Rousselet and Davis recommend going to see the movie without expecting too much of it. Or, as Davis said, “Watch interviews with Tommy Wiseau. That will give you a good sense of what to expect.”
“The Room” plays once a month at The Drexel, and will be shown next on Sunday at midnight.