“I’ve done a lot of crazy shit,” said Greg Sestero, introducing his film Best F(r)iends Volume Two at the Mayfair Theatre Friday night. “This is the craziest movie I’ve ever made.”
Sestero is perhaps best known for his role in legendary bad movie The Room, written, directed by, and starring his real-life friend Tommy Wiseau. Sestero later turned the film’s troubled production into a funny and disturbing book, The Disaster Artist, which became the basis for a 2017 film. That same year, Sestero released the first volume of Best F(r)iends, a bizarre crime film that served as an on-screen reunion for the two actors.
Best F(r)iends casts Wiseau as Harvey, an enigmatic mortician who makes elaborate masks for his cadavers. It’s the perfect role for the idiosyncratic actor, who Sestero believes miscast himself as a romantic lead in The Room. “This kind of part fits him more,” he explained in a post-screening Q&A.
Sestero, who wrote the films, appears as Jon, a troubled young man who befriends Wiseau’s character and goes into business with him, making an obscene amount of money selling dental fillings from cadavers. “It’s a real thing – you sell dental scrap and make good money,” Sestero said during the Q&A, noting that his dentist brother provided them with real teeth to use as props.
Parts one and two were shot back-to-back; originally planned as a single film, Sestero split them due to time constraints and tonal differences. Volume One was a buddy comedy that took a noir-ish turn, focusing on how Harvey and Jon’s friendship flourished before disintegrating due to Harvey’s suspicious behaviour and surreptitious payments to a shadowy figure named “Malmo.” That film ended with Harvey pushed over a cliff’s edge, plummeting to his apparent death after an argument about money.
After a disturbing flash forward showing Jon held captive by a masked Harvey, Volume Two picks up where its predecessor left off, as Jon and his conniving girlfriend flee the scene of Harvey’s death, making a quick detour to steal Harvey’s safe before driving off into the desert.
“Volume Two is Tommy and Greg do Breaking Bad,” explained Sestero prior to the screening.
He also boasted that the movie features a character who “rivals or out-crazies Tommy” – although after watching the movie, I’m not quite sure who he was referring to. Was it the creepy bed-and-breakfast operator seen screaming into a corded phone held half-a-foot away from his face? The duplicitous locksmith or his deranged biker assistant? Or perhaps “Uncle Rick,” whose toxic masculinity makes Napoleon Dynamite’s Uncle Rico look well-adjusted?
Best F(r)iends features the same wooden acting, unnatural mannerisms, and weird dialogue as The Room – but unlike that cult hit, it’s not a bad movie. That’s because the strangeness of Best F(r)iends is intentional – and not in a so-bad-it’s-good way, either.
The film luxuriates in odd details. For instance, in a tense traffic stop scene, Jon frantically rifles through the glove department for registration docs and pulls out the owner’s manual instead. The camera constantly pans to weird knickknacks: a coatrack crammed with dozens of cowboy hats; Harvey’s collection of death masks and shrines to American film stars; Uncle Rick’s countless photos posing with various animal carcasses. The action is often interrupted by unnerving dream sequences and time jumps exploring Jon’s connection to Harvey. Not everything makes sense – but then again, it’s not supposed to. The series is a surrealist project in the same vein as David Lynch.
(Then again, in a cosmic sense, Sestero’s whole career may be a surrealist project. Over the years his unlikely friendship with Wiseau has been infinitely remixed and replayed through The Room, The Disaster Artist (the book), The Disaster Artist (the film), and now Best F(r)iends – a sort of Mullholland Drive-esque Mobius strip).
The film also boasts some cool cinematography, including a thrilling sequence atop a desert rock formation (Sestero got access to the location by telling the property manager he was using it for “some family photos” – which worked well enough until the landowner rode up on horseback yelling, “What in tarnation is going on here?” just as they were shooting a climactic gunfight.)
That scene features the dramatic reappearance of Wiseau’s character, decked out in a bulletproof vest and a bucket-shaped helmet straight out of the Crusades. (Sestero says he got the idea for the costume from a relative’s collection of medieval armour; “I was looking at it and I was thinking, This is what Tommy would think a superhero would look like.”)
Interestingly, Wiseau wasn’t the only one to wear that costume during filming – several other actors, Sestero included, filled in for him at various points. “One night, Tommy just didn’t show up, so I had to play both parts,” Sestero revealed.
Like its star, Best F(r)iends leaves a lot of unanswered questions, and ends on yet another cliff-hanger. However, fans shouldn’t expect a sequel anytime soon.
“I’m making a horror film right now, and Uncle Rick’s gonna be in it,” Sestero told the crowd, referring to co-star Rick Edwards. “I’m hoping it’ll be equally crazy.”
Event: Ottawa Premiere of Best Friends Volume Two, featuring writer/star Greg Sestero
Venue: Mayfair Theatre, 1074 Bank Street, Ottawa ON
Date: Friday, March 1/2019