The Room (2003) 15th Anniversary: ‘So ‘Bad’ it’s ‘Good’?’ A Film Review



In discussions about Tommy Wiseau’s 2003 cult film The Room, talking about the term ‘So bad it’s good’ is inevitable. Hard to trace its popularity, Ed Wood was quite possibly the first cult director to gain this notoriety for his bad filmmaking. Whilst in recent years many exploitation films and 50’s b movies have been revaluated for these qualities that are against the typical ‘good’ film, for example: The Giant Claw and Blacula. Inspired by these films and the notion of ‘bad’ films that many filmmakers and audiences enjoyed anyway, we recently got many films that sound like a concept but not a film: Sharknado, Birdemic: Shock and Terror and Dinocroc vs Supergator. With so many contemporary audiences bringing back these cult films and creating more, perhaps Tommy Wiseau’s The Room came out at an ideal time to quickly gain its cult status for being a ‘bad’ film that is still fun non-the-less. But why is it fun? The idea of a good and therefore entertaining film seems to implicate that a bad film… shouldn’t be good… at all. So how and why does The Room sell out with audiences on its 15th anniversary screening after many years of continually screening showings of the film.


What is The Room?

The Room has bad acting, bad continuity, bad visuals, bad characters, bad mise-en-scène, a bad plot and unnecessary lines, moments and characters. Character emotions deeply shift mid line: “I did not her! I did not! (sad) Oh, Hi Mark (happy)” and unconvincingly. Objects and set pieces change between shots and contradict the space: the roof is bigger than the rooms below. The green screens are always obvious. The characters don’t have rhyme, reason or likeability. To fill the mise-en-scène they used pictures of spoons. The mother has cancer for one line, Mark (Greg Sestero) tries to kill Peter (Kyle Vogt) before they forget this completely, one character is replaced by another mid film and never introduced. The plot weakly revolves around a love triangle with a, far too emphasised, well off and great central character as if he’s overcompensating for something.


How is The Room Entertaining?

So why is it still so popular? So popular that it sells out fifteen years on. So much so, that there are traditions around the film’s viewing experience, which puts it on the same level as The Rocky Horror Picture Show: throw a plastic spoon when you see a spoon, dress up as the characters or in a red dress or ill-fitting suit. The intense drama given to some of the lines, that are then badly delivered, with a random accent and with strange timing or motivation allows the lines to ruin any sense of seriousness to the point of sheer comedy. Whilst the unexpectedness of all the continual mistakes, that seemingly are so obvious but were somehow missed, manage to make moments conceptually funny. How are sub plots dropped but then we get a total of four long sex scenes?



Perhaps with the enduring and expanding awards ceremonies heralding artistic or deeply moving films that are well constructed as ‘the films that films should aspire to be’; that audiences are beginning to tire. Especially this feels likely in the face of the artistic depth of films that try to avoid entertainment in favour of philosophical or political ideas. The Oscar-bait films that no one enjoys but critics love. It seems to suggest that quite often the idea of a ‘good’ film, is the artistic merit against entertainment. The lowest common denominator that defines the exploitation film but can also be the critics criticism of popular films. This seems to suggest that the ‘bad’ films, perhaps, haven’t forgotten to be entertaining. Despite illusions of realities, the self-referential humour that breaks this, can also be played for humour, whether deliberate or not. In this way The Room becomes a ‘bad’ film but a fun film, at least as much as the various moments (mostly Tommy Wiseau) are comical. The long and repeated moments, like the sex scenes, are funnier to hear of than to watch however, which is why The Room is best experienced with a live audience. It’s lack of depth and even terrible understandings of filmmaking are then made to be appreciated for its full level of a ‘bad’ but, somehow, still fun.



Johnny (Tommy Wiseau) and Lisa (Juliette Danielle) are living together and are looking to become future-husband and future-wife. However, Lisa’s having doubts as she finds herself attracted to Johnny’s best friend Mark (Greg Sestero).


Notes on So Bad it’s Good

Because there are films that deliberately try to be ‘so bad it’s good’ and those where their intentions aren’t clear – like The Room – as well as considering that there are differences in why they’re good or bad, I’m proposing these categories, or matrix, of ‘shit films’.


Not Shit

They may appear like that they’d belong in the shit film category by concept or even by taboo subjects or similar but despite their ridiculous nature, are very well made and are very entertaining.
Films Include: Killer Condom, Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead, Vampire’s Kiss.

Good Shit

They were badly made films but somehow remain to be entertaining none-the-less.
Films Include: The Room, Troll 2




Bad Shit

Well-made/with a budget (not including the effects) but not really entertaining.
Films Include: Sharknado, The Giant Claw, Godzilla (1998), Aliens Vs Predator: RequiemBattlefield Earth.



Shit Shit

These films were badly made and also failed to be entertaining at all. They were just boring.
Films Include: Birdemic: Shock & Terror, Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell, Plan 9 From Outer Space.




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Films Mentioned

Aliens Vs Predator: Requiem (d. The Strause Brothers USA 2007)

Battlefield Earth (d. Roger Christian USA 2000)

Beaster Day: Here Comes Peter Cottonhell (d. John Bacchus USA 2014)

Birdemic: Shock and Terror (d. James Nguyen USA 2010)

Blacula (d. William Crain USA 1972)

Dinocroc vs Supergator (d. Jim Wynorski USA 2010)

Godzilla (d. Roland Emmerich USA/Japan 1998)

Killer Condom (d. Martin Walz Germany/Switzerland 1996)

Plan 9 From Outer Space (d. Ed Wood USA 1959)

Poultreygeist: Night of the Chicken Dead (d. Lloyd Kaufman USA 2006)

Sharknado (d. Anthony C. Ferrante USA 2013)

The Giant Claw (d. Fred F. Sears USA 1957)

The Rocky Horror Picture Show (d. Jim Sharman UK/SA 1975)

The Room (d. Tommy Wiseau USA 2003)

Troll 2 (d. Claudio Fragasso Italy/USA 1990)

Vampire’s Kiss (d. Robert Bierman USA 1988)



Further Reading

Official Site

Prince Charles Cinema Screenings (September 2018)

Interview with Tommy Wiseau & Greg Sestero

Interview with Tommy Wiseau

Interview with Julliette Danielle

A Viewer’s Guide

Oh Hi Mark

The Room Memes

Side by Side Comparison


If you liked this

The Disaster Artist (2017): ‘The Good and the Bad’ – A Film Review

シン・ゴジラ or Godzilla Resurgence (2016): ‘The Political and Cultural Icon’ – A Film Review

Blade Runner (1982/2007): Film Experience – A Film Review


This was an analytical review of the Film Experience of the 15th Anniversary Screening of….


The Room (d. Tommy Wiseau USA 2003)


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