Sarah never imagined that her new roommate would kindly bring her coffee after class, cordially invite her to her parent’s mansion for Thanksgiving dinner, and brutally tumble dry Cuddles the kitten. How—thoughtful?
Aside from the animal cruelty, Christian E. Christiansen’s “The Roommate” is surprisingly easy to digest. Although marketed as a horror film, its predictability makes it anything but thrilling. The title pretty much sums up the plot which is chock full of clichés, but there was a suspenseful shower scene that elicited a few screams from the audience. The rest of the movie tiptoes formulaically along, without any other chilling moments which could be due to the PG-13 rating or the poor writing. I was kept on the edge of my seat only because my theater chair was broken.
Sarah (Minka Kelly) is the unsuspecting small town girl who arrives doe-eyed in Los Angeles with dreams of making it big in the fashion world. When her college roommate is a bit protective, Sarah is just reminded of the way folks behave back home. Her naivety is as frustrating to watch as her lack of acting skills. A little too trusting, she also fails to detect the obviously obsessive undertones when the girl promises, “I will never abandon you.”
Rebecca, played by Leighton Meester of “Gossip Girl,” is a ticking time bomb whose outrageous displays of violence inspire laughter more than fear. This loner artist would rather stay home to draw than go to the club, which in college movie land immediately spells out “psycho.” Remember ladies, if you want to be popular then you better limit your interests to frat parties and spiked punch. Rebecca must have missed that memo. However, she has “always wanted a sister,” so she puts her sketchbook away and focuses on her new project—becoming Sarah’s BFF—even if that means scaring away Sarah’s friends and tattooing her dead sister’s name on her chest. Did they really think needles would terrify inked up college students? I have a tattoo myself, and I can honestly say that having it done was less painful than sitting through this movie.
One dull ray of hope that shines through this sinking failure is Meester’s performance. She delicately creeps on the border between innocent and insane, causing one to wonder just how crazy this girl is going to get. She knows when to sweetly flatter with her pearly whites, yet this is eerily counterbalanced by the hollowness of her stare. This roomie definitely lurks and smirks with the best of them.
With such an enigmatic character, her background is somewhat deficient. The backstory leaves much left unspoken, and I was left wanting more insight into her shady mental and parental issues.
Go see this movie if you want to feel better about your own roommate troubles. But don’t expect anything more than a blasé rip-off of “The Devil Wears Prada” and “Single White Female.” It would be cheaper to rent these movies instead, and you would still come away with a lighter wallet and a lower I.Q.
(Kelsie Evelsizor / email@example.com)