Roommate, The (UK - BD RB)
If Marcus was Minka Kelly's roommate he wouldn't be this mean to her...
Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is starting college and to add to the excitement she also gets to share her room with another new student, Rebecca (Leighton Meester). Initially striking a nice friendship, Sara soon discovers that Rachel is maybe a little to keen to be her friend but when Sara’s other new friends, such as the party going Tracy (Aly Michalka) and new boyfriend Stephen Morterelli (Cam Gigandet) start seeing a darker side to Rebecca, Sara isn’t too far off of discovering the truth that her new roommate is a little unhinged.
The Roommate has a pretty cast and honestly that’s about all it has going for it. We’ve all seen this story before ( Single White Female being the one that immediately springs to mind), the friendship that goes sour because the new friend turns out to have a messed up background where she wants to take over someone's life or just plain be their new obsession. There’s nothing different here, except there’s a total lack of suspense, scares or anything to really sparks a reaction.
Sure Minka Kelly is great to look at all the time but somehow she feels miscast, she’s got a good few years on the rest of the young cast so immediately feels slightly out of place amongst her co stars, also she’s pretty bland (other than her looks of course) and beyond a love of fashion and a story surrounding her dead sister there’s nothing really there character wise. Her sort of sleazy without doing anything outright sleazy boyfriend isn’t much better with his hipster douche bag swagger and honestly the only bit of spark in the entire cast is from Meester. The Gossip Girl star just about registers as noteworthy but it’s only because she's the crazy one really. It’s not a subtle performance by any stretch. One minute she’s nice, the next she’s staring with menace and other than a bit of excitement towards the end of the film the thrills barely rise above tepid.
That’s the problem here really. Everything is so lukewarm. The dialogue, the menace, the characters, everything just remains on a steady line of indifference. As an example of the movie's inability to go anywhere exciting, there’s a sex scene intercut with a masturbation scene. Now that sentence in itself sounds like the movie might be getting as bit risqué but even this combination is so PG-13 in how it plays out. All you get is a couple of close ups of the girls' faces and it’s all left to interpretation, but in the airiest of ways. This is exactly how the scarier scenes run. Everything is hinted at, glanced upon and other than a belly button piercing being ripped out and Rachel getting a square punch in the face from a guy when she’s at her most mental (weirdly satisfying to watch) there’s nothing that really raises this thriller out of its teenage target audience’s sensibilities (though I’m pretty sure they’ll be wanted more out of this one as well). The Roommate just feels like it isn’t out to grab anyone and falls dead by the side of the thriller highway. If your gonna do scares, do scares. If you’re gonna do sexy, do sexy. If you’re gonna do mental roommate, really DO a mental roommate. All we get here is a hint of a darker movie and a series of scenes that build to nothing all that thrilling.
With a largely interior night-time setting in an around the college, The Roommate could have done with a few deeper blacks to sell the atmosphere. Instead we largely get dark greys and blues along with the golden lighting from street lights making the female characters look angelic as opposed to all that realistic. In amongst that we get some great skin tones, the odd bit of colour from the girls' clothes and quite a bit of fine detail. Water droplets on skin as Aly Michalka wanders around the shower room (I swear I was only looking so closely for the sake of this review - honest). Skin blemishes and hair all looks pretty great, though it has to be said mainly in close ups rather than the wider shots.
In the sections of the film that are in the day, the warm lighting makes everything pop in HD. Edges get sharper, colours get more vivid and finer details begin to jump out of the screen, especially textures in clothing. It's not the most exciting transfer of the year or anything but it's a solid presentation that's good looks probably undermine the mood of thriller a little.
The score here has moments of firing on all cylinders but it's not all that consistent and often feel quite flat. The musical choices (which are pretty wet) feel a little too echoey in places despite filling all the speakers nicely with quite a bit of power and really the only constant is the strong dialogue that sits proudly in the front speakers. The bass is sometimes used when attempting to raise a jump or two but generally speaking this is quite a routine track and not quite as sharp as you'd expect a thriller to be.
Alongside the Movie IQ and BD Live selection we get a commentary from director Christian E. Christiansen. In many ways it indirectly shows off the movies let downs as he explains trying to hit the teenage rating and talking up scenes where the actual visuals are nowhere near as thrilling as he describes them. It's a good track regardless and so a solo track actually quite engaging.
The nine deleted scenes (06:09 SD) as well as the alternative opening credit sequence aren't much to get excited about. Then there's the EPK style featurettes, 'Obession: Making of' (08:46 HD), 'The Roomate: The Next Generation of Stars' (05:27 HD) and 'Dressing Dangerously' (03:51 HD) all of which are short little soundbites of the cast and director saying things about the movie that aren't true "This wouldn't have been as good with Meester", "This movies a great thriller" stuff like that, intercut with clips from the movie.
The Roommate was tired, predictable, lifeless and frankly a little dull. The cast are all trying their best but there's just nothing to work with here. This formulaic thriller just hasn't got any high points to make it memorable and outside of Minka Kelly looking great for ninety minutes I just couldn't care less about what was going on really. The disc looks pretty, sounds pretty good and has extras as fluffy as an old lady's slippers but the commentary is quite good.
* Note: The below images are taken from the Blu-ray release and resized for the page. Full-resolution captures are available by clicking individual images, but due to .jpg compression they are not necessarily representative of the quality of the transfer.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 15 years and over
Release Date: 12th September 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English, English Audio Description Track, DTS HD French, DTS HD German
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, German, Arabic, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Hindi, Norwegian, Swedish, Turkish
Extras: Commentary, featurettes, Deleted/Alternate Scenes, Trailers
Easter Egg: No
Director: Christian E. Christiansen
Cast: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet
Length: 91 minutes
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