The Roommate

The time-honored “I Want to Be You” female thriller gets updated for the modern young crowd with this bland Screen Gems release. Slickly shot with a light Hitchcock flavor, this slow-burner checks off most of the genre’s most oiled plot points in unremarkable fashion, yet remains watchable in a vaguely trashy way. The PG-13 rating dulls much of the...read more

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Reviewed by Jeremy Wheeler
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The time-honored “I Want to Be You” female thriller gets updated for the modern young crowd with this bland Screen Gems release. Slickly shot with a light Hitchcock flavor, this slow-burner checks off most of the genre’s most oiled plot points in unremarkable fashion, yet remains watchable in a vaguely trashy way. The PG-13 rating dulls much of the onscreen menace, which is dished out intermittently thanks to Gossip Girl’s Leighton Meester, playing the film’s girl-next-door psychotic villainess. In the protagonist department, Minka Kelly (from TV’s Friday Night Lights) does just as suitable a job, but neither actor elevates the material for this cripplingly routine tale of deadly obsession gone bad.

In its own way, a dorm is a perfect setting for such a story as this. The space is relatively confined, and the party atmosphere that goes with the college crowd is prime to be mined for spiteful drama. In fact, the trouble begins after a frat party, when Kelly’s Sara character comes back to her dorm room smashed, pausing to meet her roommate, Rebecca (Meester), for the first time just before she rushes out of the room to puke. Both being artistic types, with Rebecca’s art skills jiving with Sara’s fashion-designer aspirations, the two bond over couture culture, yet Rebecca’s antisocial behavior stands in the way of them being best buds. As other people revolving around Sara’s life soon learn, Rebecca’s territorial side is something to be freaked out by. Cue stalking behavior 101, with confrontations happening in the shower (one of the film’s most blatant Hitchcock moments), as well as the classroom and, yes, even the bed.

Though tame, the perversity is welcome, as is the violence when the movie decides to go there. In fact, the finale might be the strongest scene in the picture, with director Christian E. Christiansen unleashing what can be described as a catfight to the death. The production is helped by Phil Parmet’s glossy visuals and John Frizzell’s string-heavy score, yet the artifice doesn’t quite make up for its paint-by-numbers formula. The Roommate needs to break out and turn something up, starting with juicier motivations for its crazy villain. Dull when it should be delicious, the film aspires to nothing more than just filling the conventions of the genre -- so it should be treated as nothing more than a basic genre pic.

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  • Released: 2010
  • Rating: PG-13
  • Review: The time-honored “I Want to Be You” female thriller gets updated for the modern young crowd with this bland Screen Gems release. Slickly shot with a light Hitchcock flavor, this slow-burner checks off most of the genre’s most oiled plot points in unremarka… (more)

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