Sara (Minka Kelly) is full of the joys of Spring as she leaves home, and her old boyfriend Jason, to make the huge move into a life at college. Excitedly, she enrols early in the day and is given the keys to her student digs.

Sara is able to enter the new accommodation long before her unknown roommate arrives, and chooses her side of the room. Then it’s off to a frat party with precocious pal Tracy (Aly Michalka) for drinks and dancing aplenty. The night ends with Tracy needing a carry back to her apartment by Sara and her newfound admirer, Stephen (Cam Gigandet). As Sara retires to her own bed in a drunken and love-struck state, she’s finally greeted by her new roommate, puritanical cutie Rebecca (Leighton Meester).

Over the next few days art student Rebecca and Sara bond – the former has a fabulous wardrobe; the latter is studying towards a degree in fashion design – and a friendship seems likely, despite Rebecca’s open disapproval of Sara’s party-happy friends.

When Sara goes out to a club with Tracy and is left stranded as her mate pairs off with some random bloke, Rebecca is quick to come to her rescue. She lambasts Tracy behind her back and takes Sara out the following morning to demonstrate her own idea of a good time: a tour of the local art gallery.

But, as sweet and loyal as Rebecca seems – citing her new buddy as the sister she always wished for – Sara can’t help but feel at unease in her company. And with good reason, it would seem: our first sight of Rebecca’s psychosis comes as she attacks Tracy in the shower, ripping out her bellybutton ring and warning her to stay away from Sara – threatening her with death if she chooses not to heed this warning.

Tracy does as she’s told and as a consequence Sara grows even closer to her increasingly needy roommate. Which, of course, spells bad news for anyone who imperils their bond. So be warned, boyfriend Stephen; ex Jason, who still rings Sara on a regular basis with pleas for a reunion; old pal Irene (Danneel Ackles), who’s moved into town and invites Sara to move in with her; slimy college professor Roberts (Billy Zane) who makes an inappropriate pass at Sara. Even the stray cat that Rebecca and Sara take in, Cuddles, is at risk once Rebecca’s imagination starts running wild and paranoia sets in.

THE ROOMMATE opens with a slick, sun-kissed montage of New York skylines set to a pumping pop song, while Meester – known from TV’s "Gossip Girl" – takes top billing on the unfolding credits. It’s not a promising start.

Sure enough, Christian E Christiansen’s film is a highly polished, proficient and positively sedate take on the stalker thriller genre. Everything looks so pretty – and that’s not just the cast – that it’s impossible to sense any threat as the plot progresses glossily through one insultingly clichéd set-piece to the next.

Each character is of the stock one-dimensional variety: there are no surprises here, no flirtations beyond the strictly conventional. Had Christiansen dared to have fun with the bending of stereotypes a little, he may have stood a chance of overcoming the banal script.

Performances are adequate and aesthetically the film looks the part – if you like the style of glossy American TV dramas, that is – but as a thriller there’s little to satisfy the seasoned viewer. It’s nice to see Zane hamming it up as a sleazeball. But he’s a minor distraction amid the cardboard youths that populate the bulk of this nonsense. There is no resonance, no hook, no tension.

THE ROOMMATE couldn’t be more anaemic if it tried. To say Christiansen’s film pales in comparison to superficially similar fare such as SINGLE WHITE FEMALE, CHLOE or even SWIMFAN seems harsh. But it’s true.

Sony’s region B blu-ray looks good though, proffering the film uncut in an attractive 2.35:1 transfer that is enhanced for 16x9 televisions. Colours are vivid and depth is really pleasing to the eye, although blacks do look slightly off. A clean presentation is a given for such a recent production (2011), but there is a ‘car commercial’ sheen to the film that makes it tough to judge the naturalness of the HD mastering.

The film’s audio representation is the disc’s strongpoint. The English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix is marvellous; with a textured balance of channels that draws the best from the film’s by-the-numbers score, its whiny dialogue and some decent sound design. 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mixes are also provided in French and German. Optional subtitles on the main feature come in English, English SDH, French, German, Arabic, Norwegian, Swedish, Danish, Dutch, Turkish and Hindi. An English audio descriptive track is also on hand.

An animated main menu page contains static pop-up menus, including a scene-selection menu which allows access to THE ROOMMATE by virtue of 16 chapters.

Extras on the blu-ray begin with trailers: a 90-second showcase for Sony’s HD line is followed by previews of THE GREEN HORNET and JUST GO WITH IT … which should give you some indication as to just how mainstream this film is striving to be.

From there, an audio commentary from Christiansen is decent but offers nothing revelatory. He speaks English well (he’s Danish), although there’s little of interest that he can offer and a lack of humour dries this up quite quickly. Still, the track comes equipped with optional subtitles in English, French, German and Dutch.

Six minutes of deleted scenes – 7 in total – include an alternate opening sequence. None of these offer much of real consequence, and are presented in non-anamorphic 2.35:1 standard definition.

Three featurettes – "Obsession" (9 minutes), "The Next Generation of Stars" (5 minutes) and "Dressing Dangerously" (4 minutes) – amount to little more than slickly produced B-roll fluff, with self-congratulatory interviews sharing screen-time with negligible behind-the-scenes footage.

Finally we get the BD-Live function for those watching with an Internet connection. This allows you to access Sony’s MovieIQ facility, delivering titbits of up-to-date trivia about the film and its stars during playback.

THE ROOMMATE is the type of insipid rubbish that’s designed to be shown on Channel 5 as their 9pm film. You know, the kind of thing you watch when you’re hoping to nod off early.

Also available on DVD. Note though, the DVD does not contain the three featurettes or the MovieIQ function.

Review by Stuart Willis

Released by Sony Pictures Home Ent. UK
Region 2 - PAL
Rated 18
Extras :
see main review