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The Roommate

June 29, 2011

There’s a genre of film that I feel has been long underrated and needs some strong critical support: the “crazy bitch film” or, in more professional jargon, psychological thrillers with a female antagonist. I like to believe that my having been weaned on Lifetime films, R.L. Stine’s Fear Street novels and having an XX chromosome justifies the thrill of experiencing a bitch go crazy whether in film or real life. Film’s like The Crush, Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, Friends Til the End and A La Folie…Pas Du Tout all did it right. The villains were brutal, menacing and frankly terrifying with developed backgrounds and great psychotic moments. Instead of taking notes from its predecessors, however, The Roommate keeps its delivery shallow, tedious and confusing. It’s one of those films where there are basically no redeeming qualities except for the fact that it’s watchable. Oh yeah and the lighting is pretty good although a majority of the time its overly theatric and moody. Complete with wooden unrealistic characters, circumstantial plot devices and half-assed acting, The Roommate fails… hard.

Following the mundane life of college freshmen Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly), The Roommate opens to Sara fresh out of the cab from Des Moines Iowa after moving into the classy posh lifestyle of Los Angeles. Sara immediately befriends a group of beautiful party girls and catches the eye of popular part-time drummer and full-time frat boy, Stephen (Cam Gigandet). Life is perfect for Sara even when she meets her generous yet prickly roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester). As the two embark on a friendship those closest to Sara began to witness the domineering and hostile ways of Rebecca. Simultaneously Rebecca’s obsession with Sara grows as well as her body count for those in Sara’s inner circle.

The story is pretty standard for a psychological thriller of this caliber, over the top plots are what “crazy bitch” stories do best, but usually the delivery of these tales are what makes them so captivating. The Roommate, however, lacks believable characters and actions as well as believable situations. The girls are all one-dimensional airheads and it’s never understood what attracts Rebecca to Sara, a character with the personality of a plank of wood wrapped in a wet blanket. The film even forgets to reveal what, if anything, is Rebecca’s neurosis. Plus audiences are meant to believe that an 18-year-old college freshmen doesn’t realize that the fruit punch at a frat party is spiked until four cups in or that two girls will walk away from their drinks in a crowded L.A. club and come back to drink them.

The Roommate plays out like an MTV movie and the worst kind too, the type that aims at young teenagers who can’t get into an R-rated movie so instead they buy a ticket to the only PG-13 film that isn’t a romantic comedy. The Roommate simply doesn’t pay off; scenes, situations, and reactions just don’t make sense. It leaves almost as many questions by the end as Lost did in its series finale. In fact The Roommate is one of those movies that should only be watched if you want to see how not to make a film. I should have stuck to the classics or even R.L. Stine.

AVOID IT. Dear god please do, it’s bad.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Alethia permalink
    May 5, 2015 4:25 PM

    Just reminded me to rematch The Hand that Rocks the Cradle. Terrifying on all levels

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