Editor’s Note: Bad Roomies arrives in digital and video-on-demand today, December 1, 2015.
After chasing off yet another roommate, coffee shop owner Bobby (Patrick Renna) and his best friend and roomie Raymond (Tommy Savas) set out in search of a replacement. They’re both delighted when sexy, open-minded Chloe (Annie Monroe) applies, and they happily invite her to move in. Despite seriously dating Jennifer (Jackie Tohn), Bobby is interested in Chloe, but so is Raymond, and a little competition develops. It’s nothing serious, at least at first, until a series of strong drinks lead to a series of very bad decisions, and the three roommates find themselves in an uncomfortable situation.
Bad Roomies is frequently hilarious, but often feels like a series of sketches stitched together.
Things in Bad Roomies, a dark comedy from the folks behind comedy troupe Reckless Tortuga, go from bad to worse, as these things tend to do when everyone involved is emotionally unstable and not that intelligent. Based in part on a Reckless Tortuga web series, Bad Roomies is frequently hilarious, but often feels like a series of sketches stitched together. This is especially true in the second act when Bobby, Raymond and Chloe begin to exact revenge on each other.
With tight and clean visuals, brightly lit rooms, Pier One decor and solid but uninspired cinematography, Bad Roomies looks as though it were trying to prove that low-budget films can look proper and respectable as long as you put enough effort into it. A dark comedy/psychological thriller set in a home that looks as though it was decorated by someone responsible for those display rooms in department stores is a good idea in theory, but Bad Roomies may not even have been aware of its own little visual nod to the bourgeoisie; if so, it failed to do anything with it.
Instead, the bland interiors seem to have been intended to contrast with what was supposed to be unpredictable, wild and passionate revenge, the kind that ultimately ends up with someone — in this case, Raymond, in the first scene of the film — digging what looks to be a shallow grave out in the forest. The problem is that there is almost no passion to be found in the trio’s various revenge schemes. Oh, sure, the actors yell, the characters are astonished and irritated, and the intensity of their plans escalate, but too much of it falls flat because there’s no passion behind their bad decisions, not even the first bad decision that got them here in the first place.
The stand-out performance here belongs to Annie Monroe, who gives a believable and fun turn as someone who was sadly written as little more than a pile of psycho ex-girlfriend clichés.
Much of that is thanks to the mismatched performances in the film. Renna’s earnestness never meshes with Savas’ perpetual discomfort, and along with Tohn’s truly abysmal performance, there was never any chance of the necessary chemistry developing between the four leads. The supporting players are solid, however, especially Page Kennedy, who has a small but pivotal role delivering a monologue about dangerous women that makes you wish you were watching the movie he was starring in instead.
The stand-out performance here belongs to Annie Monroe, who gives a believable and fun turn as someone who was sadly written as little more than a pile of psycho ex-girlfriend clichés. By making the character multi-dimensional and relatable, Monroe gives Bad Roomies the depth and interest that it lacks elsewhere. Too often, dialogue points out what the film has already shown, especially when it comes to what can only be described as the thesis of the film: what sounds great as a kind of sexy fantasy can, in reality, be toxic and dangerous. Monroe understood that and played toward it, while everyone else around her apparently thought of Bad Roomies as little more than Three’s Company, plus butcher knives.
Still, Bad Roomies has a familiar feel to it that makes it a comfortable watch. There are one-liners, a few key insights, and a running gag involving avocado that is funnier than it has any right to be. Though it may not bring much to the psychological thriller table, and while its comedy may not be particularly dark, Bad Roomies is a fun little popcorn movie with plenty of laughs.
A dark comedy with far more comedy than darkness, Bad Roomies manages to be funny and even charming despite its tendency toward cliche.