Monday, February 7, 2011

Quick Look: THE ROOMMATE

In The Roommate, the least observant girl on campus is forced to room with the creepiest schizophrenic on campus. Hijinks ensue! Not really. This agonizingly tedious cheapo thriller only exists as flavorless product, as an entry in Sony’s release schedule. It’s so poorly told, so clumsily paced and so lacking in plot, character, and anything of interest that it’s as if no one involved in its making were even trying. This is a cynical, crassly commercial product that can’t even bring itself to go through the motions. Flat, whiney performances from Minka Kelly (the normal one) and Leighton Meester (the crazy one) are fully annoying, and actors more likely to bring personality (like Billy Zane and Alyson Michalka) are left lurking on the sidelines with little to do. The script from Sonny Mallhi reaches lows of stupefying stupidity. It’s as if he was unaware that any psychological interest, or a little clich├ęd depth, would make the clunker of a thriller work even just a bit better. It still wouldn’t have saved it, though. As directed by Christian E. Christiansen, the movie is held in glossy focus and carefully framed to remain fully within the PG-13 rating. I’m not particularly interested in asking for blood and nudity, but I would have asked the creative team to at least keep suspense in the frame. This is a production that raises foreshadowing and subtext to the level of just plain text, laying out its plot on signposts for all to see. It’s one thing to be predictable. It’s another thing entirely to continually announce how predictable you are. The movie screams so loudly with its every fiber that the roommate is bad news, that there’s no good reason for our lead to stay in the dorm room. And yet she does, despite alienated friends, dead pets, stolen jewelry, and various other intimations of insanity. It’s not unusual for a member of the audience to view a character’s actions and think, “Don’t go in there!” while watching a dumb thriller. But it’s a bit much to sit thinking that for 90 minutes.

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