March 7, 2011

A Tale of Madness, Role-Reversal in "The Roommate"

Columbia Pictures assembles today's hottest young stars Leighton Meester (TV's “Gossip Girl”), Minka Kelly (“500 Days of Summer”) and Cam Gigandet (“Twilight,” upcoming “Priest”) for the gripping suspense-thriller “The Roommate.”

Oscar-nominated director Christian E. Christiansen (“Råzone”) crafts a finely tuned tale of madness and role reversal packed with ingenious twists and heart-stopping surprises as a naïve college freshman (Kelly) begins to suspect that her roommate (Meester) is not what she appears to be.

When the screenplay for “The Roommate” first arrived on producer Doug Davison’s desk, he immediately knew it had all the elements of a successful thriller. The script was skillfully constructed, and grounded in character and dialogue. The tension and suspense built so that, as the story progressed, the audience would feel more and more uneasy, and then, finally, out and out scared.

The producers began to search for a director who could bring a fresh point of view to a time-honored genre. “I had seen the Danish movie `Råzone,' directed by Christian E. Christiansen, and liked it a great deal,” says Davison. “He has a European sensibility that I thought would make the look and feel of the film unconventional in a good way. We had a few phone conversations and Christian’s approach to the material was all about making it feel real.”

“Råzone,” Christiansen’s first full-length feature, explores the phenomenon of girls who bully, in a thought-provoking and disturbing way. The director proposed bringing an equally realistic point of view to “The Roommate.” “When I read the screenplay, I could see the movie from beginning to end,” says Christiansen. “I understood it completely. I understood the characters. I thought it was sexy, it was hip. And most of all, it was dark and scary, which really turned me on. I love thrillers, especially from the ’70s and ’80s, and being offered the chance to do something similar was really exciting.”

The tension, says Christiansen, comes from establishing a feeling of normalcy and then slowing upending it. “Our main character, Sara, comes to Los Angeles to go to college. She’s assigned a roommate she has never met, Rebecca. We don’t know much about Rebecca except that she’s from a wealthy family and she is interested in art.”

“We first present what Sara’s real life is like when she arrives at this dorm,” he continues. “She’s from the Midwest, and maybe a little naïve. She has big dreams about what she wants to become. She’s into fashion design. And so she’s getting to this dorm with an open mind about her roommate. “

“And then we twist it,” he continues. “It turns out Rebecca is not a normal girl. She has emotional problems. She might be bipolar; she might have some sociopath in her or maybe some schizophrenic elements. In any case, she becomes obsessed with Sara. And by the time the story is done, Sara will have learned a little about what real life may hold, and she’s not as naïve.”

The finished film incorporates all the elements Davison recognized in the first draft of the script. “Christian has made a truly frightening thriller that’s grounded in reality,” says Davison. “Anyone who has ever had a roommate can relate and go along for the ride. I think audiences will not only enjoy the experience, they’ll want to talk about it afterward.”

For his part, Christiansen says he just wants audiences to have fun watching the film. “I think they are in for a treat in the roller coaster ride sense. If you’re into creepy movies, you’ll definitely have a good time. The Roommate is a thriller about the line between friendship and obsession, as well as about finding your way when you are young and everything is new. It’s full of emotional ups and downs, full of surprises—and it’s seriously scary!”

Opening soon across the Philippines, “The Roommate” is distributed by Columbia Pictures, local office of Sony Pictures Releasing International. Visit for trailers, exclusive content and free downloads. Like us at and join our fan contests.

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