The Roommate — dvd movie review
Posted on August 22, 2010 by Chris Nelson
I was a big fan of 2LDK (just this week I loaned my copy to a coworker, who loved it!), and its epic take on roommate disputes gone awry, so when I saw the trailer for the supernatural mystery, The Roommate, I was figured I’d found myself a nice double feature candidate.
Now, I should probably clarify myself here. The Roommate shares little in common with 2LDK outside of its claustrophobic depiction of two female roommates and their subsequent date with death, but its slow-burning tale is constructed decently well enough to serve as a chaser to 2LDK‘s frenetic splatter.
Boiling it down to its base elements, The Roommate is a tale of supernatural possession, delusion, and murder. At the film’s opening one roommate has just unwittingly killed the other. You see, the two were best friends – creepy-close BFFs at that (not the lesbians the back cover would like you to believe) – and a murderous intent was a concept as foreign to each as a bullfrog to a satellite. The surviving friend is completely at a loss how she could be holding her friend, a knife in her hands, and covered in her friend’s blood. And, naturally, the narrative flashes back to see exactly how they arrived at such a circumstance.
Directed by Hisaaki Nagaoka, The Roommate is a fairly low-budget entry, and fairly straightforward in its execution. In fact, you’ll probably recognize the film’s twist straight out the gate. That said, the narrative does provide enough meat to keep you interested along the way. There are mysterious bits about shadowy pasts, familial dischord, relationships between friends with different social statuses, and few other nuggets that, while small, directly influence and add too the overall course of the story, while providing fodder for discussion post-viewing. The performances are about what you would expect for a low budget title, with earnest yet forgettable turns by the lead actresses, visual-kei star Midori Tahara (her band makes an appearance in the film), and model Sayori Shiozaki. Effects fare similarly, with most scenes of murder happening off screen (arguably more effective than an expensive shower of goo), as well as a few sequences of clichéd, half-assed ghost-walking, but overall the experience was decent enough that the lack of a budget didn’t detract too much from the overall feel of the story.
In closing, The Roommate is an entertaining diversion, but one that merits a few caveats. If you can’t get past low production values and straightforward storyline, and you’re not interested in reading beyond what is presented, you probably won’t have fun. This isn’t something you should run out an buy, but could make a decent entry for a Friday night double feature.
The Roommate is presented by Cinema Epoch in a crisp 1.85:1 matted widescreen transfer. This being a v-cinema film, you’re not going to be wowed by the visuals, but the overall transfer and source look better than the previous Epoch release, Slaughter Island. Subtitles and audio both fare equally well, with the story being conveyed clearly and succintly (I’ve run into a couple bad subtitles these past few weeks. More on those later).
In terms of extras the DVD features a trailer for the film, as well as a number of other Cinema Epoch Releases, a behind the scenes documentary, and a gallery of still images from the film. These are all pretty decent, but I would have also liked to see some filmographies and bios for the people involved.
Overall, a decent DVD for a decent film. Like I said above, it’s probably not a purchase, but a decent Friday night rental.
Note: I haven’t found the trailer for the film on youtube yet. I’ll add it as soon as I do.