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The Roommate (Christian E. Christiansen, 2011)

You can almost hear the bottom of the barrel being scraped while watching Christian E. Christiansen’s thrill-less thriller The Roommate. A half-hearted recycling of Barbet Schroeder’s genuinely suspenseful 1992 genre classic Single White Female, this disappointingly tame, exasperatingly plodding film brings nothing new to the table. Its predictable set-up must assume that audience has never before seen a film of this sort. Otherwise there is no way to explain its satisfaction with its screenplay’s clichéd regurgitation of plot elements and character types. Here a naïve Midwestern girl (Minka Kelly) moves to Los Angeles for college, only to discover that her roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester) is a tad too attached to her for comfort. Before long, Rebecca is sticking the innocent pet cat in the dryer and carving the names of people into her flesh. This stuff can only end one way… badly.

Clearly aimed at the teen market, who as of yet has no idea what life in college… or the real world, for that matter… is really like, The Roommate should come across as inoffensive fodder. Unfortunately, by aiming the film at the teen demographic, what results is an erotic thriller with next to no erotic content. Sexual frustrations are entirely downplayed in favor of some baffling sort of displaced sisterhood. A timid psychological study with no plausible psychology at work, the film is remarkable in its emptiness.

What mild pleasures are to be found here stem from the cast’s charisma. Each of the three leads, the two ladies and Cam Gigadent, gives the impression that they could be appealing in the right circumstances. Make no mistake that the dour and grimy The Roommate presents no such circumstances. The film feels no better than the trashy television shows that these actors escaped from, which is ironic since The Roomate feels destined to become a staple of basic cable lineups for years to come.


Jeremy Heilman