Directed by Eric Guenter Weber&Amanda Foster/ Reviewed by Prarthana Mitra
With this short and riveting romp, Eric GuenterWeber has done justice to the exceedingly popular subgenre I often call the “flat mate situation-core” drama. Playing with his penchant for the kitchen-sink thrillers, Eric who wrote the screenplay for #Roommates along with Amanda Foster, depicts how the lives of two women are ruined when the fiancé of one enters the picture. It makes for a rather simplistic reading of the narratives, especially because the film offers no additional explanation for why what happens happens. But Eric is not interested in a philosophical reading of a psychologically toxic situation. So he presents the conflict-triangle as it is – a domestic drama that results in one or more murders, capturing the escalation of tension like a fly on the wall.
Coming to the plot, Eric keeps its simple if not derivative and even a bit stereotypical. Allie Lardner (Alison Broucek) and JessicaDrabic(Jasmina)’s living situation is disrupted when Allie’s fiancé RonWestrum (Jimmy King) comes to live with them. With sexual tension building between him and Jessica, the space they occupy becomes a cesspool for disaster waiting to happen. The chances of it are further exacerbated by the fact that Allie is overly condescending towards Jessica, bullying her and threatening to hide her sclerosis meds. So, by the end of its ten-minute run, you begin to question if their co-living dynamic was not toxic and unhealthy from the beginning.
Murder is foreshadowed by a particularly Hitchcockian scene with Ron climbing up the stairs in gloves, his intent hidden in the shadows. After he manages to seduce Jessica, it’s only a matter of time before Allie finds out and attacks Jessica, blaming her for upending her engagement.As things take a deadly turn, you perceive in Weber’s craft a dash of the macabre and dark humour. The film opens on an ominous almost operatic note that prevails for the most part, allowing Benedetto Guidotti and Giuseppe Merietti’s background score to make up for the lack of depth in the visuals.
What follows is the climax or the big reveal, which paints Jessica as the puppeteer of this entire drama. However, her motivations are never clear unless Eric expects viewers to look at her as a psychopathic mental patient out to get retribution. Even if that is the case, it does not excuse the fact that Allie is typecast as the jilted lover who immediately goes into attack mode after being cheated, and makes Jessica the sole object of her aggression. It was thus satisfying to see that Ron faces the consequences of his horrible actions as well.
The apartment which is the locus of all the action is perhaps deliberately set up as a claustrophobic space, almost reminiscent of Roy Andersson’s cuboid sets boxed by walls, and an American cult classic I recently watched called Eating Raoul (1984). There is room for improvement both in terms of art and production design as well as post-production. The edit is unremarkable except for how well it packs the film tightly, confining all the action to a little above nine minutes. Speaking of the performances, the actors are a little stiff especially in their delivery of dialogues, and the reaction cues are sometimes delayed or out of sync. The actors do their best because their characters are not developed beyond the scope of the film, leaving them bereft of individual That does not, however, betray or lessen the impact of this psychodrama.Considering the shoestring budget, Eric’s is a commendable effort making this a mumblecore thriller — if such as thing doesn’t exit, it should.