About 90 mins probably
Creepy Single White Female Horror
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The Roommate (2011)
20th Oct 11
Plot Single White Female-lite as pretty college freshman finds her new roommate is more than a tad unhinged.
During the late Eighties and early Nineties Hollywood latched onto cranking up audience paranoia with thrillers such as Fatal Attraction, Pacific Heights and Single White Female. Movies were telling you that new neighbours were very likely sociopaths, your best friend would dress like you and take over your life and mistresses with dodgy perms were guaranteed to go ballistic for a bathroom showdown.
Like most successful trends the marketplace became saturated with such product and audiences soon switched off. It seems no one thought to tell the makers of The Roommate that they would be flogging a dead horse by entering into such a defunct corner of the psycho-subgenre.
Not only that, but somebody also forgot to tell them that if they are going to make a thriller then they should really try to make it thrilling. Every time the story builds up to a potential shock the narrative cuts away quickly to another scene. It’s reminiscent of the type of cuts a certain James Ferman used to make to movies back awhile, although with The Roommate it’s because the makers wanted to appeal to a younger crowd meaning that anything too shocking just isn’t on the cards.
Director Christian E. Christiansen seems more content in pumping the soundtrack with risible songs than injecting any menace to proceedings and his cast is adequate but forgettable. An otherwise fine score from John Frizzell fizzles out against the bland proceedings and insistent pop/rock score.
College freshman Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is attractive, sensible and well-liked. She has already attracted the likes of Stephen (Cam Gigandet) and secured a job at a local coffee shop – although she appears to do bugger all there. She also has an ex-fella who just won’t leave alone - but never fear as she has a new best buddy, in the form of her roommate Rebecca Evans (Leighton Meester), who will more than happily sort out any ruffle that threatens to crease fashion designer wannabe Sara’s life.
Sara’s party-loving buddy Tracy (Alyson Michalka) senses that Rebecca may have the odd screw loose upstairs. One scare in the shower room later and Tracy stays well clear of Sara and Rebecca leaving them to bond further. Rebecca learns that Sara lost her older sister Emily when she was just nine and is soon ‘borrowing’ the necklace Sara wears in remembrance of her dearly departed as well as getting an ‘Emily’ tattoo above her boob to match the same that Sara has on her’s.
Whether you’re a cat called Cuddles, a lecherous interior design professor (Billy Zane) or insistent ex-on-the-phone Jason (Matt Lanter) schizophrenic bipolar Rebecca has problems in store for you if it means keeping Sara as her best buddy. It all sounds pretty eventful and on paper probably reads like a decent if by-the-numbers thriller. It masquerades under the guise of being a thriller but lacks the balls to alienate its intended core audience and associated certification to get said audience in. It’s a shame, as Leighton Meester looks like she could have done so much more with the evil bitch role, had the makers given her full reign to do so.
For all its faults The Roommate does exactly what it sets out to do for its intended audience of teenage females. With a meagre budget of just sixteen million dollars and a theatrical take of over forty million at the world box office it’s made it’s money back even before it hits the equally lucrative rental/sell-through market. For the more adult of us it’s mediocre at best and flat-lines rather than thrills; which makes for a distinctly flavourless evening’s viewing.