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The Independent Critic

STARRING
Leighton Meester, Cam Gigandet, Minka Kelly, Alyson Michalka, Billy Zane, Frances Fisher
DIRECTED BY
Christian E. Christiansen
SCREENPLAY
Sonny Mallhi
MPAA RATING
Rated PG-13
RUNNING TIME
93 Mins.
DISTRIBUTED BY
Screen Gems
DVD EXTRAS
Director's Commentary
Alternate Opening Sequence
 "The Roommate" Review 
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Do you really need a description of this film?

Do you really not know what to expect?

If you're mind is already set on seeing this film, then it's not likely having anything to do with an expectation that co-star Leighton Meester (Country Strong) will continue to grow as an actress or that you have any notion that this is going to be a top-notch thriller/faux horror flick and an unexpected January gem.

Always a sign of a crummy flick, The Roommate was not screened for critics prior to its release undoubtedly with the hopes that the lack of word-of-mouth might draw the teenie-bopper crowd into the multiplexes to catch their heartthrobs and that fans of the far superior 1992 Single White Female, which this film massively rips off and transplants to a college campus, would show up for a decent opening and give the film hopes of a modest return for its modest production budget.

Set at a fictional college known as U.L.A., the kind of college that makes you think of those really bad but fun 1970's slasher flicks, The Roommate introduces us to Sara (Minka Kelly), an Iowa girl coming to the big city, and her new roomie Rebecca (Meester), a rich girl from Beverly Hills who makes Paris Hilton look semi-functional. The two seem to initially get along, but rather quickly Rebecca seems to be a bit weak in the whole boundary department and, even "stranger," Sara's ex-boyfriend and a rather creep of a professor (Billy Zane) both go missing along with another morally suspect girl from the floor (Aly Michalka, Isn't she supposed to be a Christian actress?) . 

It was hard not to think about The Roommate basically being a psychotic Bratz movie, with its ample amounts of lip gloss, pretty girls, shallow speak and generally shiny imagery. Even Sara, supposedly from Iowa, looks like she herself could be from Beverly Hills and, even amidst all the folks who go missing in her circle she finds time to bed down a frat boy (Cam Gigandet. Seriously, "Cam." It even sounds frat boy).

Sonny Mallhi's paint-by-numbers script is devoid of virtually anything resembling originality or actual suspense, while the film almost inexplicably features a soundtrack of pop tunes that feel dreadfully out of place and off-putting. Director Christian E. Christiansen has zero sense of pacing, and straddled with a PG-13 rating guarantees that anyone with a true love for horror flicks will avoid the flick. If anything, The Roommate is more for borehounds than gorehounds.

While Meester has proven herself to be a semi-decent actress, The Roommate is no doubt a step backward for the young actress's desire to be taken seriously. Minka Kelly, as well, doesn't do herself any favors here and Billy Zane continues his recent trend towards career self-destruction with this flick placing only slightly above Bloodrayne in terms of career lowlights.

Destined to be in theatres only briefly, The Roommate will likely find a much more appropriate home on late night cable and home video. Even by the modest expectations that come with being a mid-January theatrical release, The Roommate is a massive underperformer. It's difficult to fathom what Screen Gems saw as potential, with the possible exception of its popular teen stars and, perhaps, a glimmer of hope for a mini-franchise or a One Tree Hill reunion.

© Written by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic 
    The Official Rating Guideline
    • A+ to A: 4 Stars                
    • A- to B+: 3.5 Stars            
    • B: 3 Stars                         
    • B- to C+: 2.5 Stars           
    • C: 2 Stars
    • C- to D+: 1.5 Stars
    • D: 1 Star
    • D-: .5 Star
    • F: Zero Stars

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