It’s always interesting to me when my favorite exploitation and grindhouse filmmakers end up making a movie for Lifetime. It happens a lot more that you might expect and it’s always undeniably fun to see how they adapt their own sensibilities to the requirements of the network. For instance, last year, Fred Olen Ray gave Lifetime both River Raft Nightmare and The Christmas Gift.
And then, in January of this year, David DeCoteau gave us The Wrong Roommate. As far as Lifetime films are concerned, The Wrong Roommate is pure perfection. It gives the viewer everything that she could possibly want from a Lifetime film. There’s melodrama. There’s romance. There’s an untrustworthy ex-fiance. There’s a mysterious artist who is both hot and dangerous and who has got like the most incredible abs. There’s a big fancy house and lots of pretty clothes and there’s even a sex-positive best friend who is eager to help her BFF rebuild her life. I enjoyed The Wrong Roommate when I first watched it and I enjoyed it when I rewatched it earlier today. But as I watched The Wrong Roommate, I wondered how members of the typical Lifetime viewing audience would have reacted to seeing some of DeCoteau’s other 122 films, like Sorority Babes in the Slimeball Bowl-O-Rama or Bigfoot vs. D.B. Cooper.
It’s DeCoteau’s background in B-movies that made him the perfect director for The Wrong Roommate. Like many filmmakers, DeCoteau began his career working with Roger Corman and then later worked with Charles Band. These are filmmakers who understood how to tell a story. Above all else, Roger Corman and his best students all understood the importance of storytelling. They understood the importance of keeping the audience entertained.
And, whatever else one may say about it, The Wrong Roommate is a terrifically entertaining film.
The film opens with a man getting run over by a car. That man is Prof. Floyd and he’s played by Eric Roberts. From the minute that I saw that Eric Roberts was going to be in The Wrong Roommate, I assumed that he would be playing another one of his trademark crazy stalker roles but instead, Roberts is one of the good guys here. He’s actually playing a sympathetic character. It’s clever casting because, even once it starts to become clear that he’s not going to kill anyone, you’re still uncertain about him because he’s played by Eric Roberts. Eric Roberts as a good guy keeps the audience off-balance and tells them not to take anything for granted.
That said, Roberts only has a supporting role here. The film is about Laurie Valentine (Jessica Morris). Laurie has just broken up with her controlling jerk of a fiancee, Mark (William McNamara). And now, she’s rebuilding her life. Her best friend (Dominique Swain) has gotten her a job teaching at the local college. And her older sister has invited Laurie to spend the summer at her mansion. The only catch is that Laurie has to look after her rebellious 17 year-old niece, Ricki (Brianna Joy Chomer).
After moving in, Laurie discovers that there’s someone else living on the estate. Alan (Jason-Shane Scott) is staying in the guest house. Ricki has a huge crush on him and soon, so does Laurie. And why not? Alan has amazing abs, spends all of his time shirtless, and he’s an artist! He specializes in wood work and there’s nothing sexier than a man who is good with his hands and his wood…
But, wait a minute!
If Alan’s so great, why does he stage a break-in at the house?
Why doesn’t he ever seem to be surprised when Mark drops by the mansion?
And, of course, we have to consider the fact that Alan has installed a secret webcam in Laurie’s bedroom so that he can watch her undress on his laptop.
Hmmmm…something might not be quite right….
You’ll probably be able to guess what’s going on within the first 30 minutes of the film but who cares? This is a fun movie and David DeCoteau’s direction strikes a perfect balance between melodrama and parody. The film looks great, the cast looks great, and I was jealous of that big house. The Wrong Roommate is wonderful entertainment, in the best tradition of Corman, Band, and DeCoteau.