Thursday Trailer Face-Off: The Roommate vs. The Resident

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Published January 27, 2011

 

Welcome to Thursday Trailer Face-Off, a feature in which we cast a critical eye on two similar upcoming film releases, pitting them against each other across a variety of categories to determine which is most deserving of your two hours. This week: The Roommate and The Resident, two thrillers that hinge on innocent young women encountering more than they anticipated in their new living situations.

 

Star PowerThe Resident stars two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank as Juliet, a doctor whose new landlord (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) is a creepy stalker type. The Roommate stars Gossip Girl‘s Leighton Meester as Rebecca, the creepy new college roommate of Sara (Friday Night Lights‘ Minka Kelly). Throw in Cam Gigandet as a love interest and Aly Michalka as Sara’s friend, and you’ve got yourself four actors with weird names and mostly television-based acting experience. Swank is definitely A-list, but she’s never been a huge box-office draw (read: Amelia), and it’s possible that the double-trouble combination of Kelly and Meester might balance out Swank’s awards. Advantage: Draw

Premise Setup Like many thriller trailers, both of these rely on obvious real-world figures to make their premises seem normal and relatable—at first. According to the title cards for The Roommate, “There are over 2000 colleges in the United States, and over 16 million students.” At least these numbers are specific—unlike The Resident‘s, which just seem lazy. “In every city, thousands of women live by themselves,” its narration informs us. Okay. Advantage: The Roommate

Watery TerrorAt 0:51 in The Resident, we get a close-up of a faucet, a shot of Swank’s legs, then a shot of Swank in the tub, startled and being watched. At 1:22 in The Roommate, there’s a close-up of a showerhead, a shot of Aly Michalka closing the shower curtain—and then Rebecca bursting into the bathroom, pinning Aly Michalka to the ground, and ripping out her navel piercing! It wins on crazy alone. Advantage: The Roommate

Believability of TechnologyIn The Roommate, at 0:55, Sara clicks around on a social network called “Frienderz,” which is how she discovers she’s Rebecca’s only friend. While we’re happy to add Frienderz to the important pantheon of fictional social networks that includes FaceUnion (Law & Order: SVU), YouFace (30 Rock), Facerange and MyRoom (both Degrassi), we have to say this one looks a little weak—like something a production assistant put together in a couple of hours, which is probably exactly what it is. In The Resident, Juliet installs a fancy new motion-triggered security system by actual security-system company ADT, which chillingly alerts her that seven new recordings have been made while she slept. The recordings are really scary—and she watches them on a big new desktop Mac, which gets additional reality points. Advantage: The Resident

Creepy Shots MontageThe montage of scary shots occurs at 1:08 in The Resident‘s trailer and includes a close-up of an eye, Swank sleeping, Swank kissing a dude, a shattering wineglass, a syringe, a hand in a doorway, Swank sleeping again, and another close-up of an eye. Pretty scary! In The Roommate, at 1:53, there’s a woman bolting upright in bed and screaming, Rebecca growling (possibly with blood on her face?), Sara looking startled, someone shooting a mirror, someone falling off the side of a building, an empty hallway, Rebecca in a bra, holding a knife behind her back and then bringing it down on some dude, two girls kissing, and Rebecca freaking out in front of a mirror. The Roommate wins this one for putting it all out there: it doesn’t bother with subtlety, like The Resident does, but rather makes it plain that this is a singler, whiter, femaler Single White Female, a black-swan version of Black Swan. Advantage: The Roommate

Special Bonus Category: Best YouTube CommentsThe YouTube comments on both of these trailers are terrific. On The Roommate‘s trailer, kaykay61894 opines, “THAT BITCH BETTER NOT KILL THAT CAT,” which is exactly what we were thinking when Sara produced a tiny kitten from her hoodie. Regarding The Resident‘s bathtub scene, multikoolio100 remarks, “somthin bad always happens in those kind of tubs!,” which is an excellent point—there’s Black Swan, there’s the Britney Spears “Everytime” video, there’s Charlotte walking in on her husband’s mom watching him take a bath in Sex and the City. Somthin bad, indeed. Advantage: The Resident

VerdictSure, The Resident is probably a “better” movie in the traditional respects—the acting and script are probably sharper, and it likely demands a little more engagement from its audience. But it also doesn’t look like a great movie. The Roommate will, hands-down, be the more entertaining of the two: it’s over-the-top and campy—the kind of film that makes you want to bring a box of wine into the movie theater—which is exactly how we like our thrillers. What we’re really looking forward to is a day about six months from now, when both The Roommate and Black Swan are on DVD and we can make it a double feature.