‘The Roommate’ should be evicted from theaters

Published 5:00 pm Saturday, February 12, 2011

There are those movies you anticipate to be awful, but for whatever reason you watch them anyway, and they actually turn out to be a pleasant surprise. Others look like they will be really bad, and from the opening scene until the couldn’t-come-fast-enough ending, they turn out to be exactly that. So while “The Roommate” isn’t “Snakes on a Plane” crazy laughable awful, it is decidedly the latter.

Where to start?

Actually, there isn’t much more you need to know about “The Roommate” you can’t glean from watching the preview. But if you want to know more than that, here you go.

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“The Roommate” stars Leighton Meester as Rebecca, a college freshman suffering from some sort of “severe mental illness,” and whose obsessive behavior towards her roommate, Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly), slowly escalates and spirals out of control. Sara is from the “tiny” Midwestern town of Des Moines, and at first is oblivious to Rebecca’s odd and clingy behavior. But when Rebecca doesn’t get Sara’s undivided attention, her friend Tracy (Alyson Michalka), her mentor Irene (Danneel Harris), her boyfriend Stephen (Cam Gigandet), her ex-boyfriend Jason (Matt Lanter), professor Roberts (Billy Zane), and laughably even her kitten “Cuddles” all begin to pay the price.

In this type of film, you would expect major plot holes, and again, you would not be disappointed. Rebecca is crazy. (That’s as much of an explanation as we get. We’re told she’s supposed to be taking medication for Schizophrenia, Bi-Polar Disorder, or who knows what, and because she’s not, she automatically becomes that insane bad guy archetype capable of all sorts of evil things.)

As the people around Rebecca become suspicious of her actions, there isn’t much logic in their behavior, and some questions are left completely unanswered. From her friend Tracy distrusting her from the beginning for seemingly no reason, to her ex-boyfriend Jason mistaking her for Sara twice – once on the phone and another time actually in person (no wonder she broke up with him) – there isn’t a lot that makes sense. It even turns out Rebecca’s stalker-like behavior is a trend that began in high school, but that nugget comes and goes and is never developed.

I will give this film credit for one thing. Unlike most similar thriller/horror films, “The Roommate” doesn’t go out of its way for cheap scares, with people jumping out of nooks and crannies every other scene. But unfortunately, that’s about the best thing that can be said about it.

While it was a little difficult to sit through the entire film, hopefully this recap was a little more bearable. If you made it this far, give yourself a gold star for the day. I’ll give myself two for staying through “The Roommates’” closing credits.

Herald Audience Manager Adam Harringa’s column appears every Sunday.