'The Roommate' is an auto-tuned horror movie; a mechnically processed imitation of a thriller that is hollow, joyless, lifeless and utterly artificial in origin. This should be of no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Screen Gems' recent line of PG-13 horror movies, 'The Stepfather,' 'Prom Night' and 'When a Stranger Calls.' What is surprising, however, is that all three of those films - which range in quality from passably mediocre to laughably bad - look like inspired masterworks compared to Christian E. Christiansen's unwaveringly vapid attempt to make 'Single White Female' for a new generation.
Minka Kelly stars as college freshman Sara Matthews, a bright eyed beauty from Des Moines who is planning to make it in the big city as a fashion designer. Leighton Meester stars as the titular dorm tenant, Rebecca, a seemingly normal city girl who just wants to be Sara's friend. Of course, "seemingly normal" and "normal" are two completely different things and so we're meant to believe that odd personality quirks like caring when your roommate comes home and not approving of her underage club hoping with similarly under-aged floozies will eventually snowball into some supremely creepy behavior.
Nothing stimulating happens for approximately 95% of 'The Roommate.' Sara gains a boyfriend (Cam Gigandet) and a job as the world's prettiest coffee barista while Rebecca stares at Sara's astonishingly mundane life. She doesn't stare with intent or malice, mind you. Is she jealous? Does she want to become Sara? Not really, she's just weird. Rebecca is merely required to pout and disapprove and say things like, "Why didn't you call?" Sure, she bullies the aforementioned party-loving floozy (played by Alyson Michalka) in what amounts to the dullest "Who's There?" shower scene the genre now knows, but that's about the extent of her disturbing behavior for nearly half of the film.
'The Roommate' is a thriller with absolutely zero thrills. That is unless you're deeply concerned about Sara's banal life. Will she go to tonight's frat party or not? Can she coax fashion professor Billy Zane (!) into enrolling her late for his coveted design class? Is she going to go all the way with her new boyfriend? Spoiler alert: she does and it happens in a glorious, overly-long what-the-hell-is-going-on montage wherein we only see moist lips and teeth agape in soundless ecstasy. This is a PG-13 movie, after all; you can show an 18-year old girl getting wasted at a party and drinking at bars, but making out with her boyfriend? That's just too tawdry to photograph from the chin down.
That bizarre sequence is at least in step with the rest of the film's complete lack of direction. The camera lingers on closeups of eyeballs and bathroom tiles as though if it sits their patiently enough a style will present itself, but director Christiansen doesn't understand that lingering on images is only as evocative as the subject matter-- and the subject matter of 'The Roommate' is about as evocative as Styrofoam peanuts. That's all this movie is, really. It's efficiently-produced padding that can be used to fluff out the resumes of a few young Hollywood members. And that's fine if you're Minka Kelly and you need a movie like 'The Roommate' to be a stepping stone from television to feature films (though this anemic mess is a severe downgrade from TV's' 'Friday Night Lights'), but if you're a movie lover, 'The Roommate' has absolutely nothing of value to offer.