US (dir. Christian E. Christiansen)
Cast: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, Alyson Michalka, Danneel Harris, Frances Fisher, Tomas Arana, Billy Zane, Nina Dobrev
Synopsis: A psychological thriller about a deranged college freshman who becomes obsessed with her new roommate.
Review: I wasn’t really expecting much from “The Roommate”, especially with it being another feature from Screen Gems, the laughably titled production company known for spewing out PG-13, in-name only horror remakes such as “When a Stranger Calls”, “Prom Night”, and “The Stepfather”. This little gem of a film is a college dorm version of “Single White Female”, likely aimed for a target audience of preteens and “Gossip Girl” fans who most likely have never heard of “Single White Female”. The all-too-predictable “crazy killer female” set up reeks of laziness on behalf of the screenwriters, yet at the same time it is amazing to note that this is one of the few times where a Screen Gems film has felt more in touch with the source material, despite assertions that this is an “original” film and in no way a remake (yeah, right). Couple the predictability of “The Roommate” with Cam Gigandet’s constant, squinty-eyed mugging for the camera, atrocious acting on behalf of both Minka Kelly and Leighton Meester and maybe two minor jump scares and you have a strong forerunner for the worst horror movie of 2011.
It sounds like it has an alright premise, albeit one that’s a tad bit overdone at this point, but “The Roommate” lacks not only originality and depth, but purpose. The entire film feels like a bunch of random scenes strung together in attempt to either frighten the audience or show how psychotic our troubled roommate character, Rebecca, really is. Unfortunately these random scenes are thrown together in such a way that connection is virtually lost and explanations are left at the wayside. Why is Rebecca psychotic? Who cares! Let’s just vaguely mention something about her not taking medication and then show her pouring gasoline on a gas station attendant and then maliciously flicking on a lighter. Why does Rebecca target her roommate for stalking just mere moments after meeting her? Meh, let’s just show her ripping a belly button ring out of another student and have that student totally NOT report the incident to either campus security or the police.
And the lack of connections between scenes is actually the least of my problems with this film. Rebecca’s “Mother Hen” shtick totally doesn’t fly by at least the second time she starts lecturing her beloved roommate about staying out too late, causing her to worry. It’s not enough that we have one scene where Rebecca gets ants in her pants about her roommate’s late night absenteeism, but we have to suffer through it at least three times before she starts doing anything more dangerous or downright crazy. If she’s crazy possessive, fine, show us one of the “I spent all night waiting for you, Sara” tirades, not three. Instead, show Rebecca stalking Sara, show Rebecca sending Sara some creepy texts or gluing pictures of them together or just doing something more risque than pouting, because at a certain point people are expecting the kid’s games to stop and the real psycho mayhem to begin.
Unfortunately when the really psychotic stuff goes down, it turns out to kill the fun in what could have been an easily forgettable, bloodless, and non-gory film, since it involves the killing of a freaking kitten. Yes, a kitten. In fact this may turn out to be the only horror movie in the history of time where the body count is 1, and it’s an adorable, helpless kitten… named Cuddles for Christ’s sake. While I obviously wasn’t expecting a full on slaughter from “The Roommate” I was certainly expecting at least one or maybe even two onscreen kills, not the clothes dryer over-heating of Cuddles, the impossibly cute kitten. So instead of a boiled bunny, a la “Fatal Attraction” (another female killer film) we get the baked kitty treatment, except no one is around to see the aftermath and Cuddles’ body doesn’t pop up somewhere in the last few scenes. Every other asshole in the film, even Billy Zane (yes, Billy Zane) as the perverted fashion school prof and the TWO boyfriends (both past and current) escape with minor injuries, but yet poor Cuddles gets the axe. For shame!
I guess the kitten scene was as close to the horror genre as Screen Gems dared to tread, because the entire film feels like one big cop out. As soon as anything becomes remotely dangerous or mildly charged with sexuality, its like the rug is pulled out from under your feet and you’re back in harmless, fluffy, PG-movie land. Even a vague reference to lesbianism, which could have served as a great sedgeway into some sort of a mildly erotic girl-on-girl thriller was thrown out the window, again leaving the audience with questions as to why Rebecca happens to be so infatuated with her roommate at all. Heck they even took out the scene from the trailer where Rebecca appears to be in bed with Sara, creepily stroking her, which oddly enough is reminiscent of that missing scene from the trailer for “The Stepfather” where evil step-dad drops a buzz-saw on Amber Heard. Maybe Screen Gems figured they just didn’t want to go the route of a sexually motivated (and gay!) killer female, and I really can’t blame them for doing so, because if any one would have screwed that sidestory up it would have been a Screen Gems writer for sure. Instead we get a script that feels a whole lot like it was written by some overpaid Hollywood “screenwriter” (using that word loosely here) who chugged away at it on their laptop for a whole weekend before hitting the print button and then heading to the bank to cash in their big fat paycheque.
Also, as I mentioned in the beginning, Cam Gigandet’s mugging for the camera becomes more than a little nauseating after about a good hour and a half of it. It’s like he’s constantly a second away from bursting out into laughing at all times or he’s taking a shit. I really couldn’t decide which.
I honestly never thought I’d say this, but there are better films from Screen Gems out there than this dreck.