The Roommate
Screen Gems // PG-13 // $34.95 // May 17, 2011
Review by Adam Tyner | posted May 8, 2011
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With a cast that's pretty much The CW All-Star Team, The Roommate has plenty of pretty girls on the bill. If that's all you're really looking for in a thriller, then...hey! There you go. Five stars. Two
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thumbs up. Stop drilling 'cause, buddy, you've struck oil. A parade of cute girls is about all you're gonna get out of this room temperature thriller, though.

Sara (Minka Kelly) is studying fashion design at some fake college in Los Angeles, and...OMG! Her new roomie Rebecca (Leighton Meester) has a closet overflowing with designer clothes! Fashion! Style! They're gonna be the most bestest friends ever! Well, kind of. Sara may be a penniless smalltown girl from Iowa or whatever, but she settles into life in the big city super-quickly. She pals around with a booze-swilling, big-boobed party girl (Aly Michalka). She's started to hang out with a charming frat guy who pretends to play the drums (Cam Gigandet). Heck, she's even helping set up fashion shows with a gorgeous, impossibly wealthy latetwentysomething lesbian (Danneel Harris) -- what screams L.A. more than that? Boyfriend. A Spring-break-woo! circle of friends. A foot in the door in the fashion industry. Sara's got it all down pat in a few weeks flat. Rebecca, meanwhile, is just a ::sniffles!:: single white female. She's super-mega-hyper-overprotective of her roommate best friend sister. Rebecca beats down and blackmails anyone who she thinks is a threat to her darling Sara. As she sees her roomie start to drift away, Rebecca keeps cranking up the volume. She beats the shit out of herself and stabs her tummy with a box cutter, sobs to Sara that she was attacked in a back alley, and uses that to shame her roommate into tagging along for Thanksgiving dinner (?!?!?). Their pet kitty, Mister Cuddles, takes a tumble in the dryer. ...and Sara's clingy ex (Matt Lanter) that won't stop calling...? This
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single white female has a fatal attraction. Geez, The Roommate has started to infect my writing too, so I guess I need to stop. You see where all this is going. A little off. Crazy. Crazier. Batshit insane. Gonna build up to a hell of a catfight. Fade to black. Roll credits.

The Roommate is rocking a pretty incredible 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes as I write this. Is it really that bad? Nah. Does that mean it really is worth seeing after all? Not even a little bit. For the most part, The Roommate really isn't aggressively terrible or anything; it's just dutifully and disinterestedly checking off every thriller cliché you can rattle off. I mean, Fatal Attraction had a boiled bunny, so The Roommate throws in a tumble-dry kitty. There's the whole scene where the chick in the shower hears a creepy noise, slowly skulks around to figure out what it is, hyperdramatically pulls back a shower curtain to reveal...nothing! Gasp! And then she gets attacked from behind. It's a shameless ripoff of Single White Female, and if you've torn through any domestic-ish thriller, ever, there's not a single shock, jolt, surprise, or anything else lurking around in here for you. No tension. No dread. No suspense. Hell, even the jump scares are so paint-by-numbers that I oughtta be able to buy them off a spinner rack at Stuckey's. Because it's PG-13, that also means zero gore and no T&A. I guess The Roommate deserves a little credit for shying away from cheesecake -- there are lots of pretty girls, but none of them are posing in their underwear or exposing every nanometer of cleavage they can get away with without being saddled with an R -- but at least jiggling flesh might've distracted me from how boring and routine this movie is. It's not that The Roommate is irredeemably terrible or's just the same old schtick done the same old way by a director with no clue how to wrap his head around a thriller. It's so unoriginal and uninvolving that The Roommate seems to drag on a full hour longer than it really does, and the energy doesn't really ramp up until the obnoxiously over-the-top climax where Leighton Meester's acting falls completely off the rails. If The Roommate had been that ridiculous for the rest of its runtime, then at least I might've been able to chalk it up as a guilty pleasure. This, though...? This is just tedious. Skip It.

The Roommate looks about as
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good on Blu-ray as a flick this dark and dreary really can. As you'd kind of expect for a studio thriller fresh out of theaters, the high-def video is extremely crisp and detailed. Seeing as how The Roommate was shot digitally and all, there obviously aren't any nicks, tears, or flecks of dust to fret about. No edge enhancement, compression artifacting, or heavy-handed noise reduction creep in either. It's just that director Christian E. Christiansen insisted upon a very natural look for The Roommate, and I guess his idea of "natural" is dialing down the lights and draining away pretty much every trace of color. The interiors are smothered in ashen grays and lifeless taupes. Even in the light of day, The Roommate saps away any trace of vibrancy, leaving fleshtones coming across as more of a muddy brown. The cinematography also skews really, really dark. Like, whatever you're picturing when you read that, The Roommate is even darker than that. All of that's obviously completely intentional, and there's not even a little bit of a hiccup on the technical end of this Blu-ray disc, but the dark and dingy photography gets really stale really quickly.

The Roommate sets up shop on a dual-layer Blu-ray disc. The video is letterboxed to an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and has been encoded with AVC.

The Roommate kind of sounds like it was mixed as a Lifetime Original Movie or something. The score and a little bit of atmosphere leak into the rears, but other than that, The Roommate hardly ever has a grasp on what to do with the surround channels. There's plenty of stereo separation up front, but the rears are a complete afterthought. Outside of the thundering low-end in the club scenes, bass response comes across as kinda rumbly. I'm just used to the soundtracks for these sorts of thrillers snarling with ferocity, but The Roommate doesn't bother with that kind of big, full sonic assault. I am impressed with how well the score comes through, but the distinctness and clarity in the music are the really the only things about it that stand out. Otherwise, much like the movie as a whole, this is a pretty aggressively mediocre effort.

There are also lossless soundtracks in French and Portuguese along with a Dolby Digital 5.1 Spanish dub. A six-channel descriptive video service track is offered here as well, as are subtitles in English (traditional and SDH), French, Spanish, and Portuguese.

  • Obsession: The Making of The Roommate (9 min.; HD): This straightahead promotional featurette tackles all the usual
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    talking points: running through each of the characters, spelling out all the relationships between 'em, and very briefly touching on the cinematography and production design. The most intriguing thing to me is hearing that director Christian E. Christiansen tackled The Roommate immediately after scoring his first Oscar nomination. Guessing he's not gonna be up for another statuette for this one.

  • The Roommate: The Next Generation of Stars (5 min.; HD): I know, I know, but that really is is the title of this featurette. It's basically just retreading and slightly expanding on the cast-centric stuff from "Obsession"...why each actor is so well-suited to his or her part, the research that went into these roles...that sort of thing. It still feels like a fluffy promotional piece, aimed more at people who haven't already watched the movie.

  • Dressing Dangerously (4 min.; HD): The third and final featurette is a very detailed peek at the film's costume design, including what Sara and Rebecca's outfits say about their backgrounds as well as how their characters' arcs are charted through their clothing.

  • Deleted and Alternate Scenes (6 min.; SD): Most of these snippets aren't really scenes in the sense of...y'know, scenes, with the majority of 'em featuring maybe two or three lines of dialogue, if that. On the hit parade here are an alternate title sequence, a lot more with Rebecca stalking Sara's fashionista to-be-roomie, and a few really quick gags. Nothing in here's really all that memorable, and it seems like Christian E. Christiansen mentions a lot more deleted scenes in his commentary than what wound up in this reel. These scenes are served up in standard definition and letterboxed in non-anamorphic widescreen.

  • Audio Commentary: I'm obviously not all that keen on The Roommate as a movie, but I kinda dug this commentary track with director Christian E. Christiansen. This is his first time making an American studio film, and I'm intrigued by hearing an outsider's perspective of getting all sorts of ridiculous clearances, jumping through location hoops in L.A., and dealing with the limitations of a mandated PG-13 rating. Christiansen also talks a
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    good bit about the overall construction of the movie, running through a slew of different scenes that had to be nixed and even a few concepts for an alternate ending that no one seemed to like. There are a few really long gaps in the track, though, and maybe it would've helped if someone else could've joined Christiansen in the recording booth. Still, the commentary is easily the best thing about this Blu-ray disc.

    Christiansen's commentary features optional subtitles in English, Spanish, and Portuguese.
The Roommate also offers up one of Sony's movieIQ features, so if you're tearing through the movie and want to know who that one actor is or what song is playing in the background, the answer's just a button press away. There are also a few high-def trailers for other Sony releases.

The Final Word
You know that shitty band that plays nothing but '80s covers at that Wild Wings down the road? The Roommate is kind of like that, only instead of tearing through really mediocre renditions of Journey power ballads, it's rehashing every stale thriller cliché you could rattle off. It's One Tree Hill meets Single White Female, and yeah, I mean that in a bad way. We're talking about a thriller without any thrills, so Skip It.

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