It would be presumptuous to declare that in the first weekend of February, we've already found the worst film of 2011 - a year that will see the release of Transformers: Bang, Zoom, To the Moon, lest we forget - but The Roommate encourages that kind of presumption. A trashy crypto-remake of Single White Female set amongst college freshmen, the film might at least have had a decent shot at being a good, campy thriller, but that would require a better script from first-time writer Sonny Mallhi, better direction from Oscar-nominated Danish filmmaker Christian E. Christiansen, better acting, better music, better-

Better everything, in short.

On the first day of school at the University of Los Angeles, the school you go to when your boyfriend from Des Moines can't get into Brown - a geographic soft-shoe that the film doesn't emphasise much at all, but it's so thrillingly arbitrary that I couldn't help but bring it up - Sara Matthews (Minka Kelly) moves into an empty two-person dorm room that can comfortably fit not just two beds but a pair of designer nightstands and a wardrobe the size of my kitchen. That night, she returns from a bender to find her new roommate, Rebecca (Leighton Meester) sitting calmly in the dark, and this shall be only the first of many times where Rebecca acts like a goddamn crazy-ass damn psycho. This includes staking out her BFF territory by accosting Sara's other new friend Tracy (Aly Michalka) in the shower and ripping out her belly button ring, engaging in weird phone sex with Sara's obsessed ex Jason (Matt Lanter), disappearing Sara's old chum, lesbian fashionista Irene (Danneel Harris), and staring angrily at Sara's new paramour, Stephen (Cam Gigandet). Also, bad things occur to a fuzzy kitty named Cuddles.

It's hard to pin down exactly where things start to go so desperately wrong with The Roommate: it can't be the story, since while Single White Female is no masterpiece, it's a perfectly entertaining piece of schlock, and the new film is at points a beat-for-beat copy (though it should be said that the script is criminally unsteady: most events don't seem to matter once their immediate purpose has been fulfilled. The most egregious incident comes when Rebecca pierces her own ear; a quick zap of "wow, she's loopy!" for the audience that the film promptly forgets about completely). If pressed, I guess I'd say the first problem is with Sara herself: our protagonist is a tremendously shallow, uninteresting, and unlikeable character. All of which make it really fucking hard to care about her when Rebecca turns on the crazy. For that matter, Rebecca's no great shakes as a villain: we never understand in even the remotest degree why she is the way she is, except that for no apparent reason she's stopped taking her pills, used to treat either schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, two mental disorders that are characterised by none of the behaviors Rebecca exhibits.

A big part of the problem is also, undoubtedly, a cast perilously full of TV stars all jostling together to make their jump to movie acting; Meester, who is much worse than she was so recently in Country Strong (and that wasn't a tremendously sophisticated performance itself), has the excuse of the film's worst-written character, though none of us would like to have to say and do the things that any of these actors have to say and do. Still, there tends to be a reason why people well-known for being on teen soaps are well-known for being on teen soaps. You can only have so many vacant pretty people who appear to be sculpted from lucite - every time Kelly and Gigandet made out, I expected to hear the squeak of plastic scratching plastic - and The Roommate sinks under the weight of its cast's combined anti-charisma, with Billy Zane lording over them all like an omen of doom: "This, my children, is what happens when you never learn to act!" And for some reason, Frances Fisher pops up in a one-scene cameo as Rebecca's mother, far too much of a professional to act as though she's completely humiliated by everything happening around her. It is good the movie dismisses her so quickly; it's hard enough to make it through without having a proper actor hanging around on the edges, embarrassing everybody else.

As the cast suggests - and by the way, "Leighton", "Minka", and "Cam"? Fuck the '80s - The Roommate has one very particular demographic in mind, and that means a PG-13 and nothing too intense, which is death for a thriller; so maybe that's the biggest problem. All the grim, inky interiors in the world can't generate honest suspense when the stakes are low, and there is an absolute vacuum of danger in this bloodless, sexless film that cannot be overcome through the feeble work of Christiansen, a director so unsteady with horror film conventions that he can't even do a jump scare right. A jump scare. The easiest, cheapest trick in the book, and yet there's a scene where Sara is looking through Rebecca's things and Stephen taps her on the shoulder, and it's staged to absolutely preclude the possibility of any tension whatsover.

The whole film is that same botch, over and over again. A shower sequence makes comically bad use of offscreen sound: when she turns off one showerhead, another turns on! and instead of being terrifying, it reminds one of the antics in a sub-par Warner Bros. cartoon. The difference between Meester's clingy smiles and her psychotic leers is so subtle that it would take one with a much better grasp of the nuances of her face than I - someone who didn't confuse her with her co-star every so often, for example - to notice them. The staging of the climactic face-off is incompetent until it becomes so ridiculous that literally every person in my theater broke out laughing at the conclusion. The cross-cutting sex scene is... but I just saw it not too long ago, I do not want to already relive the unfathomable idiocy of that horror show. Except to say that the film gets props for having the worst sex scene I can think of in at least a few years.

Worst of all? It's so damn mirthless. Everything about the film ought to be the stuff of high camp, but it's all played as dark and serious as possible, with grey tones everywhere and John Frizzell's harshly dramatic score pinging off of the gloomy emo rock; and the ludicriously underwhelming cast mouthing idiot dialogue and marching through pointless situations, all against the background of a college that contains about 30 students, all of whom spend all of their time in the dorms or frat houses. It's solemn and completely inane; it's like attending a funeral where the priest can't stop farting. Scratch that, I just made the film sound fun, and The Roommate isn't so bad it's good; it's so bad it's miserably fucking boring.