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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Pretty girls can’t salvage ugly film

    The Roommate
    The Roommate

    You know you’re in trouble when your freshman year roommate orders pancakes to be like you. Or maybe you don’t realize it until she copies your tattoo, has phone sex with your ex and tumble-dries your kitten. So winds the plot of “”The Roommate,”” an updated, college-ized remix of the 1992, “”Single White Female.””

    What the filmmakers were thinking when they threw a psychotic Leighton Meester and a Des Moines-raised Minka Kelly together in a five-star dorm room at the fictional University of Los Angeles is not a mystery. What possessed the filmmakers to use these dewy-faced brunettes in a remake of an already-sexy-despite-the-bowl-cuts erotic thriller is likewise not hard to imagine. The question is why, with such gorgeous actors and artsy surroundings, the film itself resists beauty?

    From the get-go we see these two starlets lounging in perfect brandless lounge gear, running in soft-looking unmarked gray sweatshirts and reading (momentarily) in nondescript school clothes. The walls of the posh dorm room are covered in sketches, scraps of fashion magazines and precious photos — even the coffee can from which an eventually pivotal box cutter comes is inhabited by shiny paintbrushes and a peacock feather for effect. This is the start of the movie. Crazy’s soon to come.

    Once it is satisfactorily established what a candyland this place is for two newfound, fashionable friends, in comes the jealousy. We see Kelly’s character collect a steady stream of boys — a stuck-on-her ex, a fratty drummer, a slimy professor — all of whom find their ’90s counterparts in the original. We also see Alyson Michalka as enthusiastic Tracy, whom Meester’s character calls “”a trashy little party-going whore”” before ripping out her belly ring in a move nearly as juvenile as it is sickening.

    There is a lot of this. The film, which keeps things visually appealing down to a row of pristine public bathroom under-stalls, neglects to keep its dialogue so classy. With lines like “”Watch this guy hit on me,”” “”Tonight Tracy had her shot; tomorrow you’re all mine,”” and the especially lewd “”Shut up you little bitch-tease,”” the back-and-forths could plausibly have been borrowed from porn.

    Oh, and the violence. There’s some of that, though bloodless and far between; it mostly amounts to a series of catfights off their meds. In all, the psychological thriller aspect, though watered down significantly from that of the original, remains the most powerful scare tactic in “”The Roommate’s”” arsenal.

    What we get, then, is a less-honest, scary, pornier, sexy, freaky, untethered version of the erotic thriller that borrows plot points randomly with no idea where to go but pretty. The original film took a stab at sincerity; “”The Roommate”” is as sugar-coated as the Skittles you’ll eat during. Maybe that’s what’s scary.

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