She's cute. She's loyal. She's psychotic. And, unfortunately for college freshman Sara (Minka Kelly) she's The Roommate. When Sara arrives at school, she finds new romance with Stephen (Cam Gigandet) and forms a fast friendship with her roommate Rebecca (Leighton Meester). What begins as camaraderie soon turns creepy, and Sara comes face-to-face with the terrifying realization that her new best friend is obsessive, unbalanced...and maybe even a killer!
Almost without exception, critics have cited Barbet Schroeder's Single White Female
from 1992 as a fondly remembered guilty pleasure and blatantly obvious model for this nearly pleasure-free thriller about a psycho college girl who develops a murderous obsession with her new roommate. So as not to be a glaring exception and to find some reason to talk about The Roommate
at all, here's another plug for SWF
, a much more interesting piece of creepy camp entertainment in practically every way. Updated for the Gossip Girl
generation, The Roommate
follows a wholly predictable arc that's primarily a showcase for trashy fashion, vapid acting, and an advertisement for the age of entitlement-based teenage immorality. The Roommate
unfolds at the fictional Los Angeles University, where dorms rival four-star hotels and major areas of study are sexy clothes, high-priced hairstyles, and all-around hotness. The story sets up incoming freshman Sara (Minka Kelly) as the good-girl object of demented psychological desire for roomie Rebecca (Leighton Meester) with sledgehammer conceptual blows that end with actual girl-on-girl fisticuffs. Also in the mix are Sara's crinkly-eyed new boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) and lesbian fashionista friend (Danneel Harris), both of whom spark ever more enervating bouts of emotional nuttiness in Rebecca as she progresses to certified wacko who only has eyes for Sara. The fact that a mere workaday case of bipolar disorder is at the root of Rebecca's bad behavior should be cause for outrage among mental health advocates: if only she'd stayed on her Zyprexa! But the entire enterprise is such an exercise in lameness that strong feelings of any kind are difficult to muster. Credibility and compassion are hardly the point in this brand of lazy hit-and-run drama anyway. The reality portrayed is strictly about maintaining beauty and positive emotions from actors pretending to be 18, but who are all pushing 30. A tiny bright spot is Billy Zane who gives a wonderfully dizzy turn as a faux-hip professor of fashion design with a wardrobe that makes a crazier statement about untreated psychosis than Rebecca's bizarre behavior ever could. --Ted Fry