May 30, 2023
Ithaca, NY | 83°F


Ludicrous horror mocks psychosis

In college, you might encounter thousands of strangers, but you only live with one.

“The Roommate” examines the bizarre relationship between the mentally unstable Rebecca
(Leighton Meester) and her roommate, Sara (Minka Kelly). What begins as an innocent friendship between two new roommates takes an eerie turn as Rebecca obsesses over becoming Sara’s friend and psychotically sabotages anyone who gets too close to her roommate.

In their first lead roles, actresses Meester and Kelly
deliver adequate but ultimately unremarkable performances in a mediocre film. Though the film is labeled a thriller, most of its horror attempts are laughable. Scenes in which Rebecca creepily stalks her roommate through distant coffee shop windows and threatens Sara’s friends provoke laughter rather than fear.

Though the movie’s premise has potential, the film fails to deliver. The plot progresses too quickly, clumsily pushing the story line and relationships to undeveloped stages. Rebecca’s excessive attachment to Sara seems rather sudden and lacks a definitive motive. Allusions to Rebecca’s unhappy home life and a past obsession with another girl are planted in the plot but never develop. These attempts to show Rebecca’s extreme desperation and lunacy provide too many unimportant details. The ambiguity is problematic, especially because there’s no believable display of human reactions or emotions.

Director Christian E. Christiansen relies too heavily on close-ups. In certain scenes, the cinematography is strangled by claustrophobic shots of characters’ faces. In others, the camera barely pulls back enough to reveal an adequate portion of the setting — the unconvincing collegiate environment — offering the audience only measly snippets of the action. While Christiansen experiments with different angles and camera setups to convey the psychological disturbance, it’s often unnecessary.

While “The Roommate” will likely become a temporary sensation among young teens, it will ultimately vanish with films such as “Prom Night” and “Sorority Row.” Its predictability and sequence of trite, overplayed story lines make it another mediocre thriller. By attempting to illustrate every college student’s worst nightmare, the film is merely a laughable dream.

“The Roommate” was written by Sonny Mallhi and directed by Christian E. Christiansen.

1 out of 4 stars