Directed by: Christian E. Christiansen
Cast: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet
Running Time: 1 hr 33 mins
Release Date: February 4, 2011
PLOT: A young woman (Kelly) embarks into the college world and discovers that her roommate (Meester) may not be as sweet as she seems.
WHO’S IT FOR? The Roommate might jump scare a collection of easily entertained middle schoolers, but it’s definitely not for anyone that has actually been to college. Especially if you have experience in college housing, this campus-based horror wannabe will truly become campy.
EXPECTATIONS: Two characteristics about The Roommate made it feel a bit sketchy before the film even started – it wasn’t screened for press, and it’s a PG-13 horror movie. When those two elements are combined, it’s usually a bad sign. Still, I was highly curious as to how the movie would present the idea of creepiness to its PG-13 demographic. Perhaps the weird girl would continuously “Poke” her innocent roommate one too many times? Or maybe have too many smiley-face emoticons in her texts?
Minka Kelly as Sara Matthews: Like a Vanessa Hudgens pre-internet photo fiasco, Kelly is squeaky clean. As in, she shines purity. With an exception that her niceness can sometimes lead towards naivety, she’s perfect. What a boring character to be forced to identify with for an hour and thirty minutes.
Leighton Meester as Rebecca: Throughout the movie, this bratty rich girl stares at people with the same expression. It’s meant to be eerie, but it instead it looks like she’s spacing out. Kudos to Meester for trying out a role that requires getting her hands dirty, but even with her “creepy shenanigans,” it’s difficult to be frightened of someone who still looks so normal.
Cam Gigandet as Stephen: The soon-to-be Razzie favorite Gigandet grins his way through another role of being cheap eye-candy. He becomes a poster-boy for frat culture, something that is handled awkwardly by The Roommate. Although Steven uses references that could be considered of correlation to date rape culture in his pick-up lines, he gets the girl. In fact, she even finds his punch-spiking frat to be a safe haven. Now that’s creepy.
TALKING: The script thinks that it’s concise when trying to have a character explain an emotion or thought with only a couple of sentences in an entire scene, but the thriftiness is far too much – eventually the dialogue bears no resemblance to reality, and each interaction becomes a bit of a joke. The Roommate has such terrible dialogue, that it might actually earn some value as an instructional tool to teach how to NOT make movie characters talk.
SIGHTS: University of Los Angeles (which is not a real school, apparently) does not look like a believable college. The Roommate skimps out of adequate extras casting, so the movie never has the bustling populace it needs, even in places like a dorm building or a book store. As for another damning element of The Roommate, the film’s PG-13 rating makes for a few odd moments. One of them being in the obligatory shower scene, which shows a close-up on a girl’s back and then gives us a long, screen-filling shot of … her belly button.
SOUNDS: Producer of The Roommate: “College kids love music, right? Okay, someone go out and get me the cheapest songs that we can use for our soundtrack. I’m talking bands you’ve never heard of, and will probably never hear from again. Let’s slap that on a soundtrack and put a few ominous tones in-between when things get serious. Oh, and let’s make Aly Michalka sing ‘Crimson and Clover’ in the shower. I don’t know why either.”
BEST SCENE: I do love dogs, but any time a kitten named “Cuddles” comes into play, it’s hard not to be extremely amused.
ENDING: Symbolically, she drags the bed out into the hallway. Making it difficult for anyone else to get around it. Thanks.
QUESTIONS: Why are there dorm rooms that wide? Why does Sara think that drinking the punch at a frat is a wholesome activity? Why does Steven use date rape culture as a tactic in his pick-up lines? Why is the book store so sparsely populated? Billy Zane?! Oh, that’s the painting used for the “Sonic Nurse” album cover. Weird. Wait, what? What happened to Aly Michalka’s character? How did Rebecca train herself in Batman-like quick vanishings? Are cat guts really that easy to clean up? Why would you ever take a cat to the laundry room in the first place? Where is the litter box for the kitten in the dorm room? Who let a kitten go astray? What the hell do Sara and Stephen have to talk about? So does Rebecca have a restraining order against her or what? Isn’t it kind of awkward to put a tattoo of your dead sister’s name right on your breast? What, Irene doesn’t have “Frienderz” so she wouldn’t recognize her best friend’s roommate? Why doesn’t Jason bother to ask how the person got in his hotel room? Where did Rebecca get that gun? What are the chances of Sara getting invited back to the Mathews’ estate for Thanksgiving next year?
REWATCHABILITY: Even as a jokey viewing, a second look would be pretty exhausting, with the exception that more exposure to the movie’s dialogue would make it clear just how terrible it is.
The Roommate spends a great amount of time trying to show suspicious attributes about title character Rebecca, but they aren’t frightening. The movie has no fear to provide its audience, with an exception of a few, “Oh, that looks painful” moments. Usually, they are packaged with cat-fight slapstick, which makes it all the more a failed moment in fear.
In one way or the other, going to college is a way to learn responsibility. Unfortunately, The Roommate has none. The movie is reckless with its characters. People who seem integral to the story strangely vanish, never to be heard of again (which explains why I have so many questions above). With this recklessness, the movie drags on, and on, and on. While the editing thinks that cutting scenes as tight as possible will help the smoothness of the movie, it doesn’t. Instead, it makes every interaction phony, with bad acting working together to make for a ninety-minute movie experience that truly feels like two hours.
FINAL SCORE: 1/10