The Roommate, starting Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, and Cam Gigandet, is the newest addition to the collection of harmless teen horror films that have incessantly grown for years now.
It’s hard to believe that director Christian Christiansen pictured a well developed, well told, and, well . . . well-made film to emerge from the production of The Roommate. However, anyone who has come in contact with the promotion of the movie most likely understands that its purpose is to entertain (and perhaps to induce just enough interest to procure a shriek or two when the going gets nasty – and fellas . . . it doesn’t get too nasty).
The Roommate tells the story of Rebecca (Meester) and Sara (Kelly) who have just begun college in Las Angeles. The two are placed together as roommates and, as the teen horror formula demands, initially get along with sister-like charm. However, the viewer soon learns that Rebecca is mentally unstable – enough so that even Sara's parents bare a frightened distrust. Sara gradually becomes aware of Rebecca’s mental problems. Her awareness begins when Rebecca throws a manically strange fit because Sara stays out unusually late with her new boyfriend Stephen (Gigandet). Sara’s understanding of her roommate’s insanity becomes fully realized when Rebecca tattoos “Emily” on her chest – the name of Sara’s deceased sister. “You can think of me as your sister,” Rebecca tells her. From here on, Sara is fully conscious of Rebecca’s unhinged mental condition.
Her mental instability worsens with the progression of the film. She begins threatening anyone who takes a liking to Sara and even threatens death to some who get too close to her. It is the sense of Rebecca’s instability and impulsivity that allows The Roommate to be called a thriller and a horror film.
But the movie is nothing more than an entertaining hour and a half of mind-numbing cinema. There is no lesson, theme or inspiration induced by this tale of curiously good-looking college kids finding themselves in a frightening situation. The story is stretched to transparency and the acting is unfortunately on par with any teen scream film (with the exception of Meester’s portrayal of the psychotic Rebecca, which is unexpectedly well-acted and believable).
In essence, it’s difficult to believe that any viewer will retain a lingering fear as the film ends. The Roommate won’t join the ranks of Jaws in inducing a widespread fear of college roommates; it won’t even induce a frightened glance-over-your-shoulder on the walk back to the parking lot. About all it will do is make you think, “Hey, that was a fun way to kill a couple hours.”
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