TAKE TWO: The Roommate (2011)

11 Feb

The Roommate

Rated: PG-13

Starring: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, Billy Zane

Director: Christian E. Christiansen

Chris’ Take: The Take Two for this week came down to two options: Sanctum or The Roommate. You might be wondering why we would choose this one over Sanctum, even though Sanctum didn’t look that spectacular either. This was our attempt to rebel at the system that charges more for IMAX 3D even when it isn’t used (*cough cough* Green Hornet!!), but we paid for it in a different way.

Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is just like everyone else starting college. She is excited and nervous at the same time and wants to make quick friends. When her new roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester), shows up and is friendly and welcoming, she is happy to have found such a strong companion so quickly. But, when Rebecca starts becoming more and more possessive of her time and obsessed with her, Sara begins to realize that Rebecca is unstable, and that if she doesn’t cut ties with her, there could be deadly consequences.

I don’t know where to start with this. While this was supposed to be a horror film, it definitely wasn’t scary in the least. It took elements from several better horror films, watered them down, drank them up and spewed them back onto the screen in a jumbled mess. There was a coherent plot, which was actually more than I expected, but everything about it was so unoriginal that it could be predicted far in advance.

Leighton Meester staring: The scariest part of the film.

The film could have been slightly more disturbing had it not been for the fact that the scares were projected long before they occurred. Part of what makes a horror film scary is that something unexpected happens and surprises the viewer, even if it is just something subtle. But, The Roommate was kind of like that insurance commercial where someone in another car says to another driver, “I am doing my makeup and am going to cut you off. Just giving you a heads up.” It was like they felt bad about surprising the viewer, so they wanted to give you an advance notice. I guess that’s what you get with a PG-13 rated horror film.

Anyway, there were some good elements to it. The acting, while sub par to make it a decent film, was better than most teenage horror films and that helped its plight more than other flops in recent memory.

Billy Zane! That's where you've been.

Like I said earlier, it also helped that it had a coherent plot, even if it was pretty lame. A lot of times, films of this level (a low level) will just try to throw in as many jumpy moments as possible so you forget that there is actually no story to follow. However, I was hoping they were going to try to do something even just a little more original, possibly throwing in a minor twist, even a stupid one, just to say, “Hey…we tried.”

All that being said, I went into this with low expectations and they were met, which means I probably walked out of there happier than if I had spent twice as much on an IMAX 3D film that was only slightly better (Sanctum only had like 30% on RottenTomatoes anyway). Our rebellion was paid for in suffering through this unoriginal disaster of teenage horror, but I think we came out happier than caving to the system. At least we got a good laugh out of it.

  • Characters: C
  • Directing: C-
  • Cinematography: C
  • Plot: C-
  • Performances: C+
  • Overall: C

Pac’s Take:

It is easy to look at The Roommate superficially and disregard it as another PG-13 teen slasher from the studio that brought you masterpiece adaptations like When A Stranger Calls (2006), Prom Night (2008), Obsessed (2009), and The Stepfather (2009).  However, something about this film possessed me to take a closer look and think strongly about the product Screen Gems distributed on-screen in order to comprehensively and coherently tell you exactly why this film sucked  (while still making fun of it of course).

- How do we get away with such crap? - We're hot?

More of an adaptation than a direct remake, The Roommate closely resembles the 1992 thriller Single White Female; so much so that they directly steal even minor plot points of the film and adapt it right into their story.  This can be expected in the current age of cinema and isn’t what makes the film fail.  The ultimate failure of this film stems from its PG-13 rating.  The film didn’t fall short because of the lack of language or sexual content that would warrant it an R-rating, but rather because it settled to satisfy a target audience of 13-year-old girls and it accomplished nothing more.

Buy the movie on Blu-Ray and expect a visit from this man

Somewhere along the line filmmakers seemed to lose track of certain elements of horror that made movies like Halloween so memorable.  The scariest and most enthralling part of a horror movie can’t be seen on-screen, it’s the images and events left up to the imagination of the audience that haunts them long after they’ve left the theater.  Now, instead of wondering how our monsters stalk and kill their prey, where they might be hiding, and how gruesome the demise of his/her victims might be everything is shown on-screen; expecting the gruesomeness and gore to make us cringe.  The Roommate follows suit with the current trend, absent of the shock and gore due to its PG-13 rating.   Nothing about Rebecca (Leighton Meester) scares the audience because we see exactly how loose her screws are.  This hurts the film tremendously because instead of sympathizing with Sarah (Minka Kelly) we become frustrated with her as she comes of as naive and cowardice.  In a horror film (and pretty much any film for that matter) if you can’t sympathize with the protagonist your film fails.

Possibly a correlation of the previously stated flaw, the pacing of the film was incredibly unbalanced.  The first act of the film introduces both main characters with some compassion and depth, developing their relationship and assimilating them to their new environments.  In act 2 Rebecca transitioned from overprotective and lonely to psychotic so abruptly that it ruined the suspense, and consequently the next hour of the film.  No longer horror and no longer suspense, The Roommate just becomes another teen drama.

Why did that psycho delete gossip girl from my DVR, we're no longer BFFs

It is really a shame because this film could have been so much more if it wasn’t so sloppily put together.   The performances by the two leads weren’t bad, and they had a coherent and previously successful plot to work with.  However, the lack of depth with the Rebecca character (and every character except for Sarah really), poor pacing, blatant foreshadowing, and either unnecessary or unexplored plot elements damaged this film beyond repair. 

  • Characters: D+
  • Directing: D
  • Cinematography: C-
  • Plot: D+
  • Performances: C+
  • Overall: C-
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3 Responses to “TAKE TWO: The Roommate (2011)”

  1. Megan February 11, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Hello Chris, I have my very own site (on which I take the name `cars2scrap’) and I liked this blog post to the extent that I have encouraged my readers to read it. (See the most recent blog post on my website for more info.) I just wanted to thanks for posting it. – cars2scrap.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Scrapping Cars & Recycling Blog » Blog Archive » Does the movie studio rent old cars in good shape … - Everything and anything to do with recycling old vehicles in the 21st century. - February 11, 2011

    […] article came from Chris Petersen on Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood posted yesterday and entitled TAKE TWO: The Roommate (2011) which is also certainly worth a read! Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is just like everyone else […]

  2. TAKE TWO: The Roommate (2011) (via Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood) | The Calculable - February 12, 2011

    […] TAKE TWO: The Roommate (2011) (via Chris and Pac Take on Hollywood) Posted on 12 February, 2011 by Jarle Petterson The Roommate Rated: PG-13 Starring: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, Billy Zane Director: Christian E. Christiansen Chris’ Take: The Take Two for this week came down to two options: Sanctum or The Roommate. You might be wondering why we would choose this one over Sanctum, even though Sanctum didn’t look that spectacular either. This was our attempt to rebel at the system that charges more for IMAX 3D even when it isn’t used (*cough co … Read More […]

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