Review: Cohabitation (Film Girl Film Festival)

Title: Cohabitation
MPAA Rating: Not Yet Rated
Director: Lauren Barker
Starring: Tiffany Streng, Stephanie Rose Quinnell, Carly D. Anderson
Runtime: 1 hr 26 mins

What It Is: Emily is a paramedic questioning her abilities when she’s left dealing with PTSD as a consequence of not being able to save a life. Concerned with moving out of her parents’ to get her own apartment and perhaps start her life anew, she searches for a roommate and comes upon the seemingly like-minded Sarah. Emily’s future sister-in-law Heather is a detective in an active case revolving around a serial killer; when a murder occurs in Emily’s building, Heather becomes confident that her roommate has more to hide than she lets on.

What We Think: Welcome to the newest edition of Single White Female. I’m your host, Disgruntled-and-Bored Film Critic. Just as a warning, if you had anything to do with this film, please don’t read this review.

I actually watched the 1992 “no-homo-girl-vs-girl” thriller as research and can attest, this is a movie that definitely falls in line with the subsequent trend of roommate-horrors following the former’s release. As a note, I’m also not a fan of that movie either, I thought it was incredibly shorthand in the “horrors” of female obsession, cheesy, and overall (frankly), it was pretty lame. What made it remarkable was its casting and subsequent box office success, so of course, they were going to continue making this movie over and over again.

Does this flick improve upon any of the aspects of the 90s flick? Nope. Can it be remarked as its own entity? Yes–though as many differences as there are from any of the Single White Female’s out there, I can’t find much remarkable that would strike anyone. If anyone were to be moved or trouble by this picture, I can’t imagine the impact lasting long.

First of all, the basis of the plot makes no sense. A broken paramedic teeters on quitting her career because one person died. While I can’t really speak for paramedics, EMT’s… I would think that they would have taken it more in stride considering their training as death seems to be a commonality in the workforce.  Perhaps the detail is misread on my part but the protagonist, as a previously very active being in her field seems to have too fragile of a constitution to have had any experience being a paramedic over someone who died. It might seem like I’m lingering on this a little heavy but it’s really weighing on me due to the fact that I don’t really buy that the catalyst for her trauma was really at all traumatic enough. That probably makes me sound like an asshole but honestly, I was expecting something a lot more ruthless and scarring as paramedics tend to deal with a lot worse than the soft, quick, pleasant death that some random guy had that for whatever larger reason seemed to put this woman off of her career mindset altogether. All in all, it was a pretty large character mismatch for me.

Moving on, the characters as a whole suffered from bland writing. Exposition is served with familiar, cheesy lines:

“I am this, and I want this.” “But you’re struggling with these specific obstacles.” “Yes, this is the external and internal conflict that I’m dealing with.” That sort of thing. Nothing was lost on me except for the effort to continue to pay attention as scenes centered around flat characters and performances grow repetitive and increasingly dull. I could read some potential from our leaders and a few of the supporting players, but it seems they were severely wronged on behalf of not only the script but the editing as well. A few times I found that whoever was in the cutting room felt it was fine to use rusty takes when actors may have stumbled or stuttered over their lines, particularly the protag, which was strange and didn’t strike me as naturalistic or mumble-core-leaning.

Our Grade: D-, Bland, predictable, and overall dull. Though although there is too much room for improvement in all departments, I can still see the potential for incredible improvement on behalf of all of the parts in future projects. For now, what you’ll receive from watching this flick is a string of awkwardly performed and repetitive scenes framed by plain shot-reverse-shot cinematography. For now, while it’s not something that harbors anything that I dislike to the point of hatred (just saying, it’s really the only thing that deserves F’s from me), it doesn’t do enough to really stand out as a stand-alone or even a genre tease.

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Author: Chai Simone