This Horror Movie Is A Worse Version Of A Single White Woman
In the classic 1992 thriller single white woman, Allie Jones (Bridget Fonda) becomes totally freaked out by her new roommate Hedy Carlson (Jennifer Jason Leigh), who becomes obsessed with her. Allie was just looking for someone to share her apartment with and instead her life becomes a nightmare and spins out of control. The film may be corny in some ways, but it tells a strong story about a friendship gone sour and two characters who are alone in their own way.
The 2011 horror movie The room mate feels a lot like single white woman. Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) is thrilled to be in college because she has big dreams, and after she begins to mistrust her roommate Rebecca Evans (Leighton Meester), Sara realizes who she’s dealing with. While the films share similar plots, The room mate really is a bad movie.
When The room mate opens, it looks like it could be a fun college movie. Sara runs across campus to a catchy pop song, and when she meets Rebecca, it looks like the two are going to be great friends. The movie has some elements of solid college movies, as Sara walks into her classes, meets a love interest named Stephen (Cam Gigandet), and gets more used to being alone. But although it’s supposed to be a horror movie, there are no terrifying moments, and it takes a while for Rebecca to really look like a threat.
There are two ways that single white woman succeed where The room mate failed. First of all, Hedy is much scarier and more dangerous than Rebecca. While Rebecca’s obsession with Sara is frightening, Hedy is constantly looking for ways to make Allie love and appreciate her. Hedy gets a dog and then when Buddy is found dead, it’s clear that Hedy was responsible. Hedy also has the same hairstyle as Allie and it looks like she wants to be her. Audiences may feel like Rebecca is a horrible person, but it takes a while to really think Sara’s life is really in danger, which keeps the movie from feeling thrilling or terrifying. In some scenes, Rebecca’s character is too subtle, and at other times her “evil” nature and personality are played out unrealistically. The movie fails to strike the right balance necessary for audiences to understand Rebecca’s motivation while feeling scared and worried about Sara. It just doesn’t fit together the way it should.
The second reason why single white woman is the best movie? There’s a famous scene where Hedy kills Allie’s boyfriend Sam (Stephen Webber) with a stiletto shoe. There’s nothing memorable like that in The room mate. In the third act, when Rebecca tries to murder Sara, she tries to strangle her. On the surface, sure, it’s scary, but it’s not a creative, unforgettable scene. There are many horror movies with stand out murders, death scenes in the Final destination franchise to all Yell movies. There are no death scenes in The room mate who stand out like that.
There are many ways The room mate looks like a paint by numbers remake of SWF even if it is not. In SWF, Allie’s boss (Stephen Tobolowsky) sexually assaults her. Hedy kills him because she wants revenge and she wants to help Allie. In The room mate, Sara’s teacher tries to kiss her, and Rebecca says he was going to rape her. Rebecca also kills Sara’s ex-boyfriend Jason (Matt Lanter), just as Hedy kills Sam.
The room mate also raises questions when Sara learns more about Rebecca’s backstory. While a plot line can be fantastic, when Sara returns home with Rebecca for Thanksgiving and discovers that Rebecca is bipolar and was obsessed with another girl in the past, it seems problematic. Mental health should be discussed with more compassion, and instead of using a horror movie trope in a clever way, The room mate falls into the trap of calling a character “crazy” as an easy explanation for bad behavior. The film enters some tricky ground when Sara discovers that Rebecca hasn’t taken her medication, as if the whole thing could be avoided.
Friendship movies can be sweet, charming, and have a great message. A horror movie that shows how toxic and scary a friendship can be is definitely a great idea. But making Rebecca a “bad guy” because she’s “crazy” seems harsh. And when Sara murders Rebecca and is finally free, living in her dorm in peace and continuing a happier college experience, it’s hard to feel much. Horror and thriller fans should review single white woman in place.
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