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Greg Sestero has, he freely admits, “pulled a Wiseau.”
The actor — best known for playing Mark in The Room, the cult so-bad-it’s-good 2003 film widely labeled as the worst movie of all time — and co-author of The Disaster Artist, which chronicled The Room‘s shambolic making-of story and was adapted into A24’s 2017 comedy drama, has seemingly followed the same path of its director and Sestero’s long-time, long-haired collaborator, Tommy Wiseau.
While Wiseau infamously wrote, directed and produced The Room and gave himself the lead role (Mark’s betrayed “best friend” Johnny), Sestero has done exactly the same for his directorial debut, the horror film Miracle Valley.
“Luckily I don’t think there are any sex scenes in this,” he tells The Hollywood Reporter, speaking ahead of its world premiere as tonight’s opening night film for the Salem Horror Festival. The Room, of course, had two somewhat notorious sex scenes, both featuring Wiseau.
Set and shot in Southern Arizona, where Sestero also lived while he was writing the script, Miracle Valley follows an obsessive photographer who is invited with his girlfriend to a desert getaway only for the two to find themselves in the clutches of a sinister force and facing demons from their past, present and future. It delves deep into the world of cults, in particular one story Sestero stumbled across about a preacher who thought he could bring people back from the dead based on their blood type.
“There are a lot of nods to ’70s horror — The Hills Have Eyes and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” he says of the feature, which was produced by the husband-and-wife duo of Tom Franco (producer of The Disaster Artist and brother to Dave Franco, who actually portrayed Sestero in the film) and Iris Torres. Miracle Valley is also, Sestero notes, the first film to shoot at Fallingwater, architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s famed house that is now a World Heritage Site.
As for what took him to horror, Sestero notes that, after The Room and The Disaster Artist, which propelled Wiseau’s much-loved curiosity into new levels of both popularity and infamy, he was looking to go in the complete opposite direction.
“I just thought the next thing I do has to be totally different,” he says. “And I also feel like horror is probably one of my favorite genres, and one that you can take risks with it like you can’t do in comedy.”
Sestero also has growing horror credentials, appearing last year in both the Frightfest-bowing old-school gross-out Cyst and in Mike Flanagan’s Netflix hit The Haunting of Bly Manor.
“I remember when I was working on Bly Manor, I was telling Mike about directing my first horror and he talked about making his first horror film and gave me some tips,” he says.
Inspiration also came from Sestero’s old partner in crime.
“There may be a few Wiseau sprinkles in it,” he says, adding that taking on The Room director’s multi-hyphenated approach, for better or worse, definitely made him understand Wiseau more.
“Because doing all that stuff is a huge challenge. And I’m glad I tried it — I obviously learned a lot from past projects. And I’m glad I did it in this domain because I think horror is something thats a lot easier to pull off. But it was definitely a challenge.”
Wiseau may not yet have seen Miracle Valley (Sestero says he kept referring to as “Midnight Valley,” mixing it up with Flanagan’s current Netflix horror Midnight Mass), but when he does he’s likely to spot at least one key Easter egg from The Room.
Says Sestero: “There’s a spoon in there. And maybe a few other fun little references too.”
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