Tuesday, February 22, 2011
The Roommate – 91min - PG13
This movie is masterfully executed by all players, but has no real soul. All the elements are in place to make a good physiological thriller: it’s shot well and the actors did a good job, but it falls flat. I had no connection with anyone on screen. None. Zip. NADA. I think that the high creep factor and low thrill factor were the blame. This movie had many creepy elements but it never paid off with any real suspense.
Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is a freshman and is excited to start her new life as a college student. She meets her new roommate Rebecca (Leighton Meester) and they bond, but Rebecca is stand-offish with other people on campus. As the year progresses, we see Rebecca start to slowly break down and become more unstable. Sara grows in her role as a student. She is taking classes and working part time at a coffee shop and also has a boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) — a frat boy drummer from a band. Rebecca also grows: grows obsessed with her roommate, that is. She takes it upon herself to remove all the other relationships in Sara’s life. Sara finally starts to put the pieces together and we have a huge confrontation that really does not have much of a climax, it was and “eh, sok, nothing to write home about” kind of an ending. This movie was not overly gratuitous in its nudity or violence. We had a shower scene that could have been very revealing but the choice of camera angle hid all of the naughty bits. The violent scenes did allow us to fill in the gaps with what they did not show us, but where it did so well on those elements it lacks on the elements of tension or thrills. If the thrill element was better this could have been a marvelous movie. Today movies seem to rely on the boobs and blood elements to sell their products. I applaud the effort in avoiding the easy way and shooting something that was more complicated, an honest effort that fails is still worth something.
One other thing that kind of bothered me was that the entire cast was all beautiful people. It would have been nice to see a few average looking people to give the eye some variety, heck even toss in an ugly one or two so that way it seems like a real collage campus. There were a number of elements that were a shot for shot copies, err... sorry “homages” to Single White Female. We have the two characters getting a small animal, and the crazy character killing it. Oh, spoilers coming. Sorry I need to be quicker there. Then again, if you have seen SWF you know what’s going on anyway. We have the crazy roommate taking on the image of the object of her obsession and having a liaison with her obsession’s ex-boyfriend, and killing him. The end fight scene is really a letdown; they have so many opportunities for a cool death scene. They had a gun, an open window in the fifth floor, other bludgeoning items, and the weapon they decide to go with is……a box cutter. I am guessing it must have been the brand of box cutter that makes people not want to fight back once they get stabbed with an inch long strip of metal.
This is Christian Christiansen’s fourth feature film and he was nominated for an Oscar for his short “At Night” he has potential, but this might have gotten lost in translation. He is Danish. Perhaps what plays well in that market does not translate well to the American palate. This movie might have been the height of thrills in Denmark but here, it really is just a basic cable version of an after school special.
As we are on the topic of this kind of movie, what was the last thriller you saw that made your hair stand on end?