The Roommate

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The Roommate
Roommate poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byChristian E. Christiansen
Written bySonny Mallhi
Produced by
CinematographyPhil Parmet
Edited byRandy Bricker
Music byJohn Frizzell
Distributed byScreen Gems
Release date
  • February 4, 2011 (2011-02-04)
Running time
94 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$16 million[1]
Box office$52.5 million[2]

The Roommate is a 2011 American psychological thriller film directed by Christian E. Christiansen and written by Sonny Mallhi. The film stars Leighton Meester, Minka Kelly, Cam Gigandet, Danneel Harris, Matt Lanter, and Aly Michalka.

The Roommate was released in the United States on February 4, 2011.[3]


Sara Matthews is starting her freshman year of college in Los Angeles. She meets party girl Tracy, frat boy Stephen—her love interest—and Rebecca, her shy college roommate who bears an uncanny resemblance to her. The girls begin to bond and Rebecca learns that Sara had an older sister, Emily, who died when Sara was nine, and an ex-boyfriend, Jason, who keeps calling her in attempts to reconcile.

Over time, Rebecca's obsession with Sara grows, which causes her to drive away anyone who could come between them. Claiming that she is a bad influence, Rebecca attacks Tracy in the shower, pins her down, rips out her belly-button ring, and threatens to kill her unless she stays away from Sara. Tracy moves to another dorm, fearful of Rebecca. An old friend of Sara's named Irene invites Sara to move in with her when Sara's cat Cuddles is discovered by an RA. Rebecca kills Cuddles, lying to Sara that the cat ran away, and inflicts injuries upon herself and says she was assaulted by a thug. Feeling sympathetic, Sara decides to spend Thanksgiving with Rebecca. When Sara's fashion design professor, Roberts, kisses her, Rebecca plans to get the professor out of the picture by seducing him while recording their dialogue on a tape recorder to make it sound like he was trying to rape her.

During her Thanksgiving stay, Sara overhears a conversation between Rebecca and her father, hinting Rebecca has had trouble making friends in the past. After Rebecca's mother mentions that Rebecca is supposed to be taking medication, Sara and Stephen find a bottle of unused Zyprexa pills, used to treat schizophrenia or bipolar disorder. Sara decides to move in with Irene; however, that evening at a club, Rebecca seduces Irene and they go back to Irene's place. The following morning, Sara goes to Irene's apartment, but she is not there. Meanwhile, Rebecca gets Sara's sister's name tattooed in the same place on her breast as Sara. Alarmed, Sara finally realizes Rebecca is obsessed with her and removes her belongings from the dorm. Jason arrives at Sara's dorm and slips a note under her door, saying that he wants to see her. Rebecca intercepts the note, and disguises herself as Sara. She then goes to Jason's hotel room and stabs him to death.

Sara receives a text message from Irene saying she needs to meet with her right away, and she calls Stephen so he can meet her there. She arrives and finds a gagged Irene handcuffed to the bed. Rebecca reveals herself and points a gun at Sara, proclaiming her love and loyalty, before tearfully revealing she was responsible for what happened to Tracy, Cuddles, Professor Roberts, Irene, and Jason, and that she did it all to win Sara's friendship. Rebecca moves to smother Irene, and Sara attempts to stop her. Sara tries to call for help, but the phone is dead. Bound and helpless, Irene pleads for Sara to save herself. Sara tries to get out the window to get help. Rebecca breaks back into the room and aims the gun at the cuffed and helpless Irene, only to be stopped by Stephen who briefly disarms her but is knocked unconscious. Climbing back into the room, Sara is strangled by an enraged Rebecca. While choking, Sara stabs Rebecca with a box cutter, killing her after saying the words "You were never my friend".

Sara moves back into her dorm and moves the extra bed out of her room with the help of Stephen, proclaiming that she does not want anyone as a roommate for a while.



Sonny Mallhi first thought of shooting the film in New York City but it was eventually shot on location at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and at Loyola Marymount University.[4] Leighton Meester was originally set to play Sara but was replaced by Minka Kelly and Leighton played Rebecca.[5] Billy Zane and Frances Fisher had both starred together in Titanic fourteen years earlier, though in this film they shared no scenes.


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 3% based on 86 reviews, with an average rating of 2.86/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Devoid of chills, thrills, or even cheap titillation, The Roommate isn't even bad enough to be good."[6] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 23 out of 100, based on 16 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews."[7] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "B−" on an A+ to F scale.[8]

Keith Staskiewicz of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a D, saying it "is really just a far-below-par thriller that desperately wishes it were a different movie – a longing it shares with the audience," but praises Meester for bringing "the slightest trace of something fascinating to her role. When she smiles, it's perfectly located between a sweet display of affection and a snarling warning."[9] Peter Travers of Rolling Stone gave it a half star, stating that "The Roommate – the umpteenth uncredited remake of 1992's Single White Female – sucks bad, real bad" and that "Danish director Christian E. Christiansen has no flair for suspense".[10] Meester's performance garnered praise from other top critics, including the Los Angeles Times, which states: "Here, her performance often has the feeling of a sports car in neutral. When she punches it for quick changes of tone from manic to wounded or around the bend, she shows how much more she is capable of."[11]

Box office[edit]

Opening in 2,534 theaters, the film grossed $15.6 million its opening weekend to take first place at the box office. Its distributor estimated that females under the age of 21 accounted for two-thirds of its audience.[12] By the end of its run, the film grossed $37.3 million in the United States and Canada and $15.2 million in other countries for a worldwide total of $52.5 million.[2]


Award Category Recipient Result Refs
MTV Movie Award Best Scared-As-S**t Performance Minka Kelly Nominated [13]
Best Villain Leighton Meester Nominated
Teen Choice Award Choice Movie: Villain Leighton Meester Nominated [14]
Choice Movie: Female Scene Stealer Aly Michalka Nominated
Choice Movie Actress: Drama Minka Kelly Nominated
Choice Movie Actor: Drama Cam Gigandet Nominated
Choice Movie: Drama The Roommate Nominated


Some of the promotional posters and displays for the film used the Christy Administration Building from Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas as its backdrop. The college administration voiced concern that permission to use the photograph of the building was not properly obtained and investigated the legality of its use.[15]

Primary concerns hinged that the image of the college (particularly the image of the building) could be damaged, while other concerns were that the college's primary iconic image was being used for promotion of an unrelated business venture.[16]

Though the film successfully earned $15.6 million in receipts to top the box office during its debut weekend in the United States, concerns continued. By that time, the image of the building had been replaced on the film's official website and on subsequent promotional material. The photo of the building reportedly was licensed from iStockPhoto based in Calgary, Alberta. As of February 8, 2011, no lawsuits had been filed but discussions had taken place.[17]

Students at the school reported "mixed feelings" about the topic – some believed that it may have been helpful for the college and others reported that they saw how it could have been harmful to the school's image.[18]

Home media[edit]

The Roommate was released on Blu-ray Disc, DVD, and digital download in North America on May 17, 2011.[19]


  1. ^ Fritz, Ben; Kaufman, Amy (February 3, 2011). "Movie Projector: 'The Roommate' and 'Sanctum' won't score on Super Bowl weekend". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on March 19, 2011. Retrieved February 3, 2011.
  2. ^ a b "The Roommate (2011)". The Numbers. Archived from the original on February 14, 2018. Retrieved February 13, 2018.
  3. ^ "Sony Screen Gems' Major Date Shifts, 3D Maneuvers". Bloody Disgusting. 5 February 2010. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  4. ^ "The Roommate – Production Notes – On The Dark Side Of The City Of Angels". Archived from the original on March 3, 2016. Retrieved August 17, 2013.
  5. ^ "First Ever Look at Screen Gems' 'The Roommate', Hi-Res 'Priest' Teaser". Bloody Disgusting. 22 December 2009. Archived from the original on 17 November 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  6. ^ The Roommate at Rotten Tomatoes
  7. ^ "The Roommate Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on October 23, 2020. Retrieved November 28, 2020.
  8. ^ Kaufman, Amy; Fritz, Ben (February 6, 2011). "Box office: 'Roommate' beats 'Sanctum' on slow Super Bowl weekend [Updated]". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on February 8, 2011. Retrieved February 7, 2011.
  9. ^ Staskiewicz, Keith (February 4, 2011). "The Roommate Review". Entertainment Weekly. New York City: Meredith Corporation. Archived from the original on September 8, 2014. Retrieved March 30, 2018.
  10. ^ Travers, Peter (February 4, 2011). "The Roommate". Rolling Stone. San Francisco, California: Wenner Media LLC. Archived from the original on December 3, 2017. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  11. ^ Olsen, Mark (February 5, 2011). "Movie review: 'The Roommate'". Los Angeles Times. Los Angeles, California. Archived from the original on March 3, 2011. Retrieved November 16, 2017.
  12. ^ "Roommate thriller tops US box office". BBC News. February 7, 2011. Archived from the original on August 20, 2018. Retrieved June 20, 2018.
  13. ^ "2011 MTV Movie Awards: The Full Nomination List". MTV. May 3, 2011. Archived from the original on October 1, 2015. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  14. ^ "Teen Choice Awards 2011 Nominees Announced: Harry Potter vs Twilight". Huffington Post. June 29, 2011. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved February 2, 2018.
  15. ^ Twitchell, Allen (December 3, 2010). "Image of SC building on movie poster". The Winfield Daily Courier. Winfield, Kansas: Winfield Publishing Company. Archived from the original on December 18, 2021. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  16. ^ Hawkins, Korie (December 9, 2010). "Christy photo on movie poster causes concern". Southwestern College Student Media. Archived from the original on August 26, 2011. Retrieved January 17, 2011.
  17. ^ Twitchell, Allen (February 8, 2011). "Movie poster image remains a concern for SC administration". The Winfield Daily Courier. Winfield Publishing Company. Archived from the original on October 18, 2021. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  18. ^ Andres, Craig (February 11, 2011). "Southwestern College unhappy with national movie poster (with video)". KSN TV 3. Archived from the original on February 11, 2011. Retrieved March 9, 2011.
  19. ^ "The Roommate". Amazon. Archived from the original on 2022-10-28. Retrieved 2017-09-16.

External links[edit]