Roommate Wanted, written and directed by Michael McCartney, is about a killer roommate that aims to make you laugh and shudder equally. The film blends several tones, traverses multiple themes, and is packed to the brim with campy outrageousness and slasher gore. It mixes these elements in order to provide commentary on issues related to LGBTQ identity, white male privilege, and incel culture. Unfortunately, this kind of genre-bending playfulness – especially when used to deliver socio-political commentary – proves to be an ambitious undertaking for the low-budget horror/comedy, so it repeatedly finds itself drowning in the material.
The film follows Maria (Angelique Sabrina White), a broke college student living in a rundown share house who, due to recent feelings for her best friend Kate (MJ Garcia), finds herself unsure of her sexuality. Maria lives with Ricky (Ricky Cruz), a free-spirited burn-out whose hippy girlfriend Lucy (Isabela Valotti) lives at their house rent-free.
“…Maria and Ricky’s other roommate suddenly dies, sending the two of them..on a hunt for a replacement…”
One night, Maria and Ricky’s other roommate suddenly dies, sending the two of them and Lucy (yes, she’s always around) on a hunt for a replacement tenant. They land on Dean Rickles (Jack Shulruff), a polite, nice guy who claims to work in tech and believes in personal privacy. Though his straight-laced demeanour makes Ricky uneasy, Maria is convinced he’ll be the perfect roommate; a source of stability in her otherwise chaotic world. Predictably, Maria is dead wrong about Dean. It turns out that he has multiple psychopathic personalities, each of whom appears to embody some toxic element of white-maleness.
Clearly, McCartney is looking to offer a meta-political commentary of which Dean serves as the symbolic centre. Yet Dean’s psychotic personas are explored only at a surface level. They are entertaining, shocking, and genuinely funny. But for that same reason, they fail to inspire deeper thought about the weighty themes on the filmmaker’s mind, such as male privilege, sexism, racism, and incel culture. As the film progresses, it becomes evident that Roommate Wanted might just be trying to do – or be – too many things at once. By the time we’ve been introduced to all the characters, become caught up in the romantic subplot, watched a misplaced lesbian sex scene, witnessed multiple stabbings, and been repeatedly probed to laugh and then scream, the film’s deeper meaning loses all of its potency.
"…its haphazard execution may just be the source of its charm."