The Roommate Review

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Credit to Leighton Meester for making The Roommate tolerable. She’s the saving grace of this kind of/sort of/not official remake of Single White Female, a rapidly evolving psycho who becomes a wee too attached to her new college roommate. She hides in shadows, picks through things, eliminates people from her new “friend’s” life, and then kills people. You know, like all college roommates.

Why does The Roommate exist you ask? The formula sells. Much like placing a giant shark in the water, placing a nutball in a place where so many people are forced to go will immediately illicit terror. It’s almost too easy in some cases. So, you have to work at it, and off The Roommate goes to instill that sense of fear, and right off a cliff it tumbles.

Maybe that’s being too harsh, but let’s face it: Meester is no giant shark. On that note, someone get on that and a make a movie where a giant shark is a roommate. That would be killer! Literally! Ha ha! No? Okay, never mind. Anyway, Sony’s attempt at the modern creeping stalker genre plods along, the level of insanity slowly growing. Rebecca’s (Meester) past comes into view, her rich parents introduced, and her own level of personal destruction taking an unnerving twist.

In-between all of that, we have Sarah (Minka Kelly), the title character (dependent on how you look at it) roaming around baffled as to why everyone is creeped out by her new friend. It’s blatantly obvious to the audience, completely lost on her until about halfway through. That’s when we learn of Rebecca’s mental conditions, and the bodies begin piling up.

Those bodies aren’t all human, Rebecca taking out a kitten by plopping it into the dryer, mercifully off-screen, a sort of desperate bid to get this one moving. When you’re in familiar territory, the worst thing you can do is extend it, and that’s just what The Roommate does. It feels like it takes a small eternity to get going, brief flashes of craziness not enough to really satiate the audience’s thirst for scares and kills.

And really, a kitten? You couldn’t just have her kill the girl in the dorm next to them? The lasting image of this one isn’t a bunch of PG-13 skin or some clever plotting. It’s that damn cat clawing to get removed from the dryer before she starts it. Jerks.

Movie ★★☆☆☆ 

The Panavision Genesis provides the visuals here, immediately striking simply because of how garishly glossy it is. Sarah walks into her dorm glistening as if she’s sparkling in a Twilight movie. It’s unnatural and distracting, the light bronzed tinting of the flesh tones not helping either.

Of course, that’s only a few seconds of this AVC encode… and the rest isn’t much better. Mediocre seems to fit, the video settling into a level that never packs much of a punch. It starts with the simply atrocious, washed out black levels. Maybe that’s intent, the whole palette somewhat muted and plain, but it robs the image of life. It has no bite or kick, the glaring contrast that blooms through windows and blots out facial detail not enough to salvage this one.

Behind a layer of noise lies detail, there’s no question about it. While those moments of abnormal, glistening skin remain here and there, close-ups perform with some regularity. Pores, cuts, and bruises are identifiable even with a bit of distance, the mid-range holding its definition. Fashion plays an extensive role here, high fidelity detail on hats, shirts, and jeans well rendered and crisp when speaking generally.

There are a few other issues, namely some aliasing that gets in the way of many fine lines. Stuff like tables, desks, and chairs all tend to break up a bit. There’s the noise mentioned above too, appearing out of nowhere, initially appearing as an impostor static grain before taking over some of the backgrounds. The deficient black levels do nothing to hide it either.

Video ★★★☆☆ 

It’s college, so that means parties and clubs, parties and clubs, and more parties… and more clubs. Endlessly even. Thankfully, this DTS-HD track is up for it, capturing the nuances of crappy college bands with distinction and clarity. Music swirls into the rears with ease, while eager, drunken party goers cheer on from the floor. Clubs hammer home the bass, providing a low-end from the techno blaring, never losing the dialogue to the elevated music.

Otherwise, this is fairly lean, the campus offering up zilch in terms of ambiance. Surrounds keep quite, as does everything else except the center for that matter. When it comes time for the finale, a couple of gunshots are notable for their pop, and some glass shattering offers the crispness expected of uncompressed audio.

Audio ★★★★☆ 

Commentary time, this one from director Christian E. Christiansen. Seven deleted scenes including an alternate opening are what’s advertised for six minutes. Obsession is complacent making-of material, followed a by a piece that is all praise for the young cast, Next Generation. Dressing Dangerously looks at how the clothes were chosen to match the character and mood. Sony’s typical round-up of BD-Live and MovieIQ are here as well, although as is the norm, nothing on BD-Live actually relates to the film itself.

Extras ★★☆☆☆