It all starts with pancakes—fluffy, delicious pancakes. Parked at a diner booth after a night of partying, Minka Kelly, a freshman at the University Of Los Angeles—one of the most prestigious fake schools in the state—orders a stack. Her new roommate, Leighton Meester, decides on the fly that she would also like pancakes. From that alarming development, it’s really just a short leap into shooting Kelly’s friends thousand-yard death stares and tormenting an adorable stray kitty named Cuddles. Meester is a straight-up psycho in The Roommate, a deplorable unofficial reworking of Single White Female, and the film isn’t interested in understanding why or revealing the depths of her psychosis. It’s a lazy, bloodless, pointless, boring piece of work, lacking even the conviction to deliver a little cheap exploitation.
The message of The Roommate seems to be this: Avoid the goons outside the Greek system. When Kelly first arrives at ULA, she’s eager to party at frat houses with her fun-loving, hard-drinking new friend Aly Michalka, and she finds a super-bland suitor in Cam Gigandet, the drummer for a band that doesn’t play much beyond house parties. By contrast, Meester is a brooding artist type who’s immediately tagged as a weirdo for digging abstract, contemporary art. Though Kelly doesn’t notice the warning signs, Meester scares off Kelly’s friends with creepy, obsessive behavior, warding off anyone who tries to come between her and her new best friend. By the time Kelly picks up on Meester’s intensity, it may be too late for Cuddles.
It should be said that Single White Female, a Hitchcockian thriller by way of Roman Polanski’s Rosemary’s Baby, isn’t a particularly great film, but at least it follows the psychosexual dynamic between a woman and her copycat friend as far as it can go. Perhaps the PG-13 requirement was a hindrance from the start, but The Roommate doesn’t bother suggesting the neediness or desire that leads Meester to attach herself to Kelly, or start taking on some of her traits. She’s simply a misfit off her meds, which in the film’s view makes her subhuman. She might as well be stalking campus in a hockey mask.