The Roommate is a movie whose story is instantly recognizable to anyone who has ever seen another movie of this genre, the ‘perfect (blank) who turns out to be more than meets the eye’. You’ve literally seen this movie a dozen times if you’ve ever watched a movie before.
Have you seen Single White Female? Then you’ve seen a better version of The Roommate. Have you seen Fatal Attraction? Then you’ve seen a better version of The Roommate. This movie is basically a mash-up of those two films, except without the terror, suspense, horror, gore, violence, intrigue, or sexiness of those two films.
Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is your classic small town girl off to the big city. She’s the most fashionable girl in Des Moines, Iowa, so, naturally, she knows she’s going to take her sense of style and breeze into LA and become a huge fashion star once she graduates college. She’s already somehow got friends at college, and knows a friend in the fashion business in Irene (Danneel Harris), so perhaps she can make her dreams come true. There’s just one little problem, and that’s her roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester).
As it turns out, Rebecca is just a little bit, ahem, different. One by one, Sara’s friends stop coming around, her ex-boyfriend from Des Moines stops calling, and she finds herself spending more and more time with Rebecca, who is becoming less and less a roommate and more like a possessive girlfriend, except without the make-out sessions. No, that’d be entirely too entertaining or controversial for this movie.
Aside from one set of kisses and some drinking from our 30-something cast, The Roommate takes great pains to avoid being particularly memorable, shocking, or disturbing. It doesn’t even muster up some unintentional comedy as it slogs through its plot, piece by piece, while director Christian E. Christiansen (his real name, and not some Alan Smithee credit) manages to rip off Black Swan‘s shaky camera work without evoking that film’s visceral impact. Probably because he shoots the thing exactly like a television show, including mammoth full-face close-ups of characters in conversation, rather than actually shooting The Roommate like a legitimate movie.
The last ten minutes of the film are unwatchable, unless you like the absolute worst tendencies of Paul Greengrass mixed with the editing prowess of Michael Bay on amphetamines. But that’s okay. By covering your eyes you miss absolutely nothing. In fact, I found staring at my palm to avoid throwing up to be a richly rewarding experience compared to whatever was happening on screen.
From the moment characters appear on screen, you know exactly what’s going to happen to them, how it’s going to happen, and who is going to do it to them. There are no surprises in this movie whatsoever. This is basically TV Tropes: The Movie.
There’s a reason screenwriter Sonny Mallhi has absolutely no screen writing credits to his name. (That reason? He sucks.) It’s a predictable, poorly written, follow-the-numbers flick, with absolutely no redeeming value. It’s not even entertaining in a bad way. It’s just kind of there. It’s the unflavored oatmeal of movies.
The only noteworthy change between The Roommate and any other standard roommate from hell suspense picture? Only one person dies in The Roommate. It’s as spineless and as gutless as a PG-13 movie could possibly be. You’ve heard of the hard-R flick? Well, this is the limp PG-13 flick.
While every other character is straight out of the slasher template and displays the same sleazy behavior that your standard one-dimensional stereotype in this kind of film indulges in, they don’t actually die for their transgressions.
Also, every actor in this movie, aside from Aly Michalka, is either over 30 (Minka Kelly), pushing 30 (Cam Gigandet), or is well out of college age (Leighton Meester). I’m usually kind to actors put in this situation, and I usually try to suspend my disbelief. But poor Cam Gigandet looks like he’s making this movie because he’s got alimony payments to multiple ex-wives. The less said about poor Billy Zane and his 15 minutes of screen time, the better. At least he’s appeared in a movie that makes Tales From The Crypt: Demon Knight look like Cape Fear. So, he’s got that going for him.
The Roommate represents the very worst of the abysmal genre that is the PG-13 horror film. Somehow, it manages to be even less effective than your average teen horror, which is saying something. It’s not saying something good, mind you, but it is a feat in and of itself.
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