FILM REVIEW: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly Star in the Familiar, Unoriginal Tale ‘The Roommate’

Innocent young college girl moves in with psycho roommate. You know the rest. 

The horror film, which also features “Twilight’s” Cam Gigandet, is directed by Christian E. Christiansen without any distinctive style.

The sort of tepid, seemingly made-for-television thriller that will appeal only to younger audiences to whom Single White Female might as well have been made in black-and-white, The Roommate is an all-too-familiar tale of a young woman increasingly terrorized by her psycho roomie. Managing nary a single original idea throughout its 93-minute running time, the film does benefit from a cast of sexy young TV stars who should attract the desired female teen demographic.

Freshman small-town girl Sara (Minka Kelly, Friday Night Lights) has just settled in at her Southern California university when she encounters friendly roommate Rebecca (Leighton Meester, Gossip Girl). It isn’t long before Rebecca reveals an overprotective side that is violently manifested in a Psycho-like shower attack on Sara’s freewheeling friend Tracy (Aly Michalka, Hellcats).

In between classes in fashion design taught by a smarmy professor (Billy Zane) who makes such pronouncements as “the journey starts right here, right now,” Sara finds a job at the local coffeehouse and starts dating hunky frat-boy drummer Steven (Cam Gigandet of Twilight and The O.C.).

It won’t be hard for audiences to see where things are going when Rebecca solemnly tells Sara, “I’m here for you.” Soon, anyone who threatens to get between her and her object of obsession becomes subject to Rebecca’s rage, including an adorable kitten that finds itself in a clothes dryer.

It isn’t until Rebecca gets the name of Sara’s dead sister tattooed on her body that the apparently clueless Sara finally gets it. It all leads to the inevitable violent showdown that will seem like deja vu to anyone who’s ever watched a late-night cable thriller.

Although Meester manages a few creepily intense moments in her Jennifer Jason Leigh-inspired role, the rest of the cast get by mainly on their looks, with Kelly projecting adorableness at every turn and Gigandet crinkling his eyes in suitably smoldering fashion.

Directed in utterly anonymous style by Christian E. Christiansen (an Oscar nominee for his 2007 short At Night), Roommate features the sort of discreet sex and violence guaranteed to procure the desired teen-friendly PG-13 rating.

Opened: Friday, Feb. 4 (Screen Gems)
Production: Vertigo Entertainment
Cast: Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, Aly Michalka, Danneel Harris, Frances Fisher, Tomas Arana, Billy Zane
Director: Christian E. Christiansen
Screenwriter: Sonny Mallhi
Producers: Doug Davison, Roy Lee
Executive producers: Beau Marks, Sonny Mallhi
Director of photography: Phil Parmet
Production designer: Jon Gary Steele
Editor: Randy Bricker
Music: John Frizzell
Costume designer: Maya Lieberman
Rated PG-13, 93 minutes