What could I possibly say about “The Room” that hasn’t been said before? The 2003 “disasterpiece” has cemented its handprints on the Internet Walk of Fame. Beautifully awkward scenes like Johnny’s rooftop entrance or the most dialogue-efficient flower purchase in history are bizarre enough out of context to be unintentionally captivating. Monthly interactive screenings of “The Room” across the country amass hundreds of attendees, giddy to hurl both insults and plastic spoons at the theater screen. It wasn’t always this way; the movie was panned commercially and critically, leaving theaters after earning back a measly $1,800 at the box office. How did an unremarkable, amateur romantic drama accidentally become a beloved, campy cult comedy? The fascination surrounding “The Room” tells us a lot about film culture and how we as spectators appraise films.

Johnny (played by writer/director/producer/D.B. Cooper’s secret alias Tommy Wiseau) is a banker engaged to Lisa (Juliette Danielle), whom he loves very much. Secretly unhappy living with Johnny, Lisa begins an affair with Johnny’s best friend, Mark (Greg Sestero). If you were hoping for a more intricate plot, I’m sorry. Along the way, Johnny throws a football with his friends in an alleyway, orders dinner at a restaurant, throws a football on the roof with his friends, has two terribly uncomfortable sex scenes, plays football with his friends while they wear tuxedos and drinks a concoction only known as “scotchka.” Secondary characters float through the movie with minimal impact to the main storyline, even when these moments hint at echoes of real emotional depth. “I got the results of the test back,” Lisa’s mother (Carolynn Minnott) explains early on. “I definitely have breast cancer.” The subplot dies at its inception, with absolutely no reference to the terminal illness later in the movie. 

The romance between the handsome-yet-wooden Mark and the unbelievably manipulative Lisa really tries a viewer’s patience, as Mark plays dumb in the face of her quite obvious advances. Mark tells Lisa that Johnny is his best friend a couple times, but somehow he keeps getting roped into sex scenes that double as R&B music videos. Although I don’t feel like anything in this movie is dramatically potent enough to warrant a spoiler warning, I won’t give away much more about the plot for the sake of those readers who haven’t had a chance to take the journey to “The Room” themselves. And, believe me, it’s a journey you’ll want to take.

Instead, let’s talk about the other things that went into this movie. Supposedly, “The Room” had a $6 million budget, a portion of which was spent constructing soundstages for a couple scenes, including an alleyway and a green screen-equipped rooftop. Why couldn’t Wiseau find an alleyway or rooftop where he could shoot on location for much cheaper? While we’re asking questions, why does director of photography Todd Baron keep letting the camera go out of focus? Why is a majority of the dialogue dubbed after filming? Why do we need all these establishing shots of San Francisco? Why are there so many continuity errors regarding time of day, costumes and props? Are the four sex scenes (and the four full-length songs accompanying them) really necessary? It would be one thing to call “The Room” a poorly made movie, but this level of filmmaking incompetence almost seems intentional. It’s as if each decision was deliberately made in an attempt to create the worst film ever. 

Maybe the fact that there are absolutely no redeeming qualities in “The Room” is why it’s been called “the ‘Citizen Kane’ of bad movies” by critics over and over again. Each element of filmmaking synthesizes perfectly to create an overall failure of cinema. When I watched it for the first time, one of my friends said, “It’s like if an alien tried to make a movie,” which feels startlingly accurate. As moviegoers, we’re used to watching bad movies made with budgets ten times larger (“Geostorm,” anyone?), but every big-budget flop is molded and shaped by an industry that runs on convention. Even the worst movie widely released in theaters in 2017 feels safe and familiar, blending in with mainstream storytelling and production norms. Wiseau treats “The Room” with Hollywood fanaticism minus the prerequisite industry experience. When we watch it, we experience a disconnect between the familiar movie form and the actual presentation. In other words, every minute of the 100-minute runtime of “The Room” just feels ... off. However, the positive bond formed by collectively enduring the movie is unrivaled. The best parts  of humanity can be found in a dark room full of strangers yelling quotes in unison, throwing footballs around and laughing at one another’s jokes, and none of this would be possible without a universally terrible movie to ridicule. So thank you, Mr. Wiseau, for redefining the phrase “so bad, it’s good.”