As the superfluous stream of ‘remakes’ continues to retain its tight grip on the film industry (or the American one, at least), I noticed that the recent horror movie The Roommate appeared to be more or less, a direct remake of the classic 90s film, Single White Female. I had not actually been aware of this when I started watching, but it quickly became apparent, and I found myself preferring the ‘remake’ – and as this is such a rarity, I thought I should elaborate. The use of the quotation marks around the word remake is due to the confusion surrounding the definition of what a remake is; this has been argued extensively amongst serious film critics but I shan’t bore you with it here, just know that when I use the word ‘remake’, it’s not an official description! Basically, both films follow the story of the complicated relationship between a roommate who is slightly unstable and another ‘normal’ one.

My biggest bone of contention with Single White Female, and why I found it so hard to properly get into when I first watched it, is that it seemed to me to be so increibly unrealistic that I couldn’t understand the motivations behind Bridget Fonda’s character (Allison) at all. Very early on in the film, her new rommate showed signs of being of a disturbed mind, yet it took an excruciatingly long time before any action was taken to either get rid of the crazy girl, or to get to the root of her problems. What normal person would allow a roommate with such odd behaviour to continue living with them for such a great length of time? For me, that caused the loss of a great deal of sympathy for Allison, meaning that all of the events that followed made no impact on me – she walked into it, silly cow!

I think The Roommate addressed this issue in a much more satisfactory way, meaning that I did not feel the need to tear my hair out during the course of the film. The roommate’s ‘psychotic’ personality was gradually built up in increasing increments which remained realistic, it was just enough for the viewer (and Sara – the ‘normal’ roommate, portrayed by Minka Kelly) to understand that she had a screw loose, but not too much as to scare off Sara completely. This slow ascent into madness was such a great tool in keeping the audience’s attention, as one becomes enticed and curious abou what will happen next – just far will Rebecca (the ‘crazy’ roommate, portrayed by Leighton Meester) go? This works delightfully more successfully than Single White Female ever came close to, as a director should never underestimate the effectiveness of subtlety!

Maybe, some of my hesitance when it comes to Single White Female is due to Bridget Fonda – she’s an actress that I just have never really warmed to. I think this is partly due to her abysmal performance in the (appalling!) remake of Luc Besson’s classic Nikita, ‘Point of No Return’. Ever since I had the misfortune to see that poor excuse of a movie, I developed somewhat of a vendetta against Bridget Fonda. Now, I do always try to keep an open mind whenever I’m watching a film in order to let any outside influences affect my viewing experience, so I don’t think I’m being completely unfair in my dislike of Single White Female. Actually, I thought this role was much more suited to Bridget than Nikita was (although, in the remake she was called Maggie), and so she performed this role a whole lot better.

I feel like The Roommate also added more elements to the basic story which helped to update it and make it far more interesting to watch. Single White Female seemed to be shot almost exclusively within the confines of the apartment, which isn’t visually that exciting after half an hour of the same dull cream walls. The Roommate transposed the story to a university campus, including a promising new boyfriend, a pervy lecturer, a party-girl close neighbour and the much-awaited parents of this disturbed character. In Single White Female, her origins remained somewhat unexplored which I thought was a real shame, especially considering how a lot of films always relish these sort of tales. The more pieces that are added to the puzzle mean that there are more events for the viewer to enjoy in the film, to keep their interest peeked at all times.

In conclusion, I do think that both films are worth a watch – I mean, The Roommate owes a lot to Single White Female, regardless of which is considered the ‘superior’ movie. Overall, however, The Roommate manages to keep its audience gripped from beginning to end, whereas Single White Female wanes and even grates on me a little bit (but I suppose the lads prefer this film because of the nudity!). It ultimately depends on whether you’re after a drama/mystery film (Single White Female) or a thrilling/horror movie (The Roommate), but the good news is that either one manages to unsettle!