By Katherine Pullen
Every fall, millions of students move in with strangers. On campuses across the nation, college students unpack their belongings in a room shared with a person they know nothing about. Sometimes it works out and sometimes it does not.
“The Roommate” centers around Sara, played by Leighton Meester, a freshman from Iowa beginning her first year at a university in Los Angeles.
She moves in with Rebecca, played by Minka Kelly, a seemingly sweet but spoiled girl from Beverly Hills. The two girls hit it off before Sara begins to notice something is wrong with Rebecca.
From the moment they meet, Rebecca is wholly obsessed with Sara. She sees herself as Sara’s savior, sister and closest confidant. As the 92-minute flick marches on, Rebecca begins to lose the ability to control her obsession. She becomes increasingly agitated and frighteningly psychotic, leading the movie to a chilling climax.
“The Roommate” is creepy and disturbing, but it is far from the scariest movie out there. There are sequences that make the audience jump or squeal, but it is not a horror flick. The plot is fairly predictable, following along the lines of similar movies like “Single White Female,” “Fatal Attraction” and “Obsessed.”
In one unnerving scene, Sara and Rebecca are getting ready for a night out. Sara lends Rebecca some earrings and then goes down the hall to get in the shower. Rebecca stares in the mirror at her unpierced ears and gradually lifts one of the earrings to her ear. With hardly a flinch, she punches the earring through her flesh, then smiles at herself in a way that makes neck hairs stand on end.
The characters are developed just enough for the audience to create an opinion, but not enough for the audience to truly care about what happens to them. Sara is shallow and two-dimensional, but the audience likes her and can identify with her. Rebecca’s character is mysterious and downright crazy, and the few glimpses we have into her past are underdeveloped.
“The Roommate” was well- filmed: Extreme close-ups, low lighting and slow pans added to the suspense. The editing was good and thankfully lacking any of the typical scary- movie clichés of shaky camera work and the rapid shots of horrified faces.
The actors played their roles well and the audience could feel the tension between the two main characters. Movies of this genre have the potential to be over-the-top but the drama in “The Roommate” built logically right up to the final climax scene.
“The Roommate” is entertaining and the plot is realistic. Those looking for a high-intensity scary movie or a complex and thought-provoking plotline may find themselves disappointed, but most will enjoy the “it could happen to you” quality of the movie.
While “The Roommate” will not be the standout movie of 2011, it is enjoyable and worth the price of a theater ticket. I give it 3.5 out of 5 stars.