Does the new Minka Kelly/Leighton Meester thriller "The Roommate" look like "Fatal Attraction" for the college set?
Yes, and there's nothing wrong with that. In fact, "The Roommate," in which "Gossip Girl" star Meester plays a college student who becomes obsessed with her roommie (Kelly), promises to be another fine entry in the sub-genre of psychological thrillers we actually think of as the "PWF" flick: Psycho White Females.
You know 'em: those crazy movie villainesses who wreak havoc on the men, women and children (and sometimes poor, innocent bunnies) around them, usually on the heels of some brief or imagined love relationship.
In honor of "The Roommate," we're counting down our nine favorite PWFs who've come before them.
9. Erika Christensen, 'Swimfan' (2002)
"Fatal Attraction" for high schoolers? Check, as Christensen's Madison is a girl who knows what, or rather who, she wants, and will go to any lengths to get him. And if she can't get her man, well, she'll get her man. In this case, it's aspiring swim champ Ben (Jesse Bradford), who cheats on his girlfriend Amy (Shiri Appleby) via a sexy pool romp with Madison. He's immediately remorseful about his infidelity, but not as sorry as he is when the scorned Madison wrecks his car, sets him up to fail a drug test, kills his BFF and frames Ben for it and tries to kill Amy. Yikes.
8. Rebecca De Mornay, 'The Hand That Rocks the Cradle' (1992)
De Mornay's Peyton had been through a tragedy: Her obstetrician husband committed suicide after one of his patients, Claire (Annabella Sciorra), reported him for molesting her during an exam. Peyton lost her hubby, her house, her financial security and, thanks to the stress of the situation, her own pregnancy.
Her rebound plan: to destroy the pregnant Claire and her family, by changing her identity, getting hired as Claire's nanny and slowly turning her fam and friends against her. It doesn't work, of course, but along the way, Peyton does manage to terrorize an elementary school child, frame the family's developmentally disabled handyman (Ernie Hudson) as a pedophile and murder Claire's best friend (Julianne Moore) in a gruesome shattered greenhouse trap that would make "Saw'"s Jigsaw proud.
7. Drew Barrymore, 'Poison Ivy' (1992)
The movie that marked the beginning of Drew Barrymore's comeback also found her playing a very bad bad girl. Trashy teen Ivy (Barrymore) has a miserable family life, but she feels right at home with pal Sylvie (Sara Gilbert), Sylvie's uptight dad Darrel (Tom Skerritt) and Sylvie's sick mother Georgie (Cheryl Ladd). The life that angsty Sylvie rebelled against, in fact, was Ivy's ideal, so she proceeds to seduce Darrel (in an over-the-top, sex on the car hood scene in a rainy forest) and push Georgie off a balcony and make it look like suicide.
6. Jennifer Jason Leigh, 'Single White Female' (1992)
In yet another entry that proves 1992 was a good year to be a PWF on the big screen, Leigh plays Hedy, a shy, lonely woman who seems like the ideal roommate for It Girl Allie (Bridget Fonda), whose heart had just been broken by her cheating boyfriend Sam (Steven Webber). Allie and Hedy forge a sisterly bond, until clingy Hedy wants not just to be like Allie -- right down to copying her hair cut and color and buying the exact same clothes -- but to actually be Allie.
When Hedy's disturbing past is revealed (there was a dead twin involved), she tries to kill Allie and Allie's gay BFF Graham (Peter Friedman), pretends to be Allie while having sex with Sam and then kills him by plunging a stiletto heel into his head. And she wonders why she's still single.
5. Sharon Stone, 'Basic Instinct' (1992)
1992 again! Stone's Catherine Tramell is a bit less overtly psycho than the other PWFs on our list, but she is every bit as violent. The film's opening moments show the sex-and-murder scene that leaves Catherine as the main suspect for San Francisco detective Nick (Michael Douglas) and his partner Gus (George Dzundza). Nick is helplessly attracted to writer Catherine, and a game of cat-and-mouse leaves him guessing about everything about Catherine -- except whether or not she wears underwear, that much is transparent thanks to the infamous leg-crossing scene.
4. Ali Larter, 'Obsessed' (2009)
In a slight twist on the usual PWF/"Fatal Attraction" plot, handsome businessman Derek (Idris Alba) doesn't actually cheat on his wife Sharon (Beyoncé Knowles) with flirty temp Lisa (Larter). But that doesn't squash Lisa's obsession with Derek; it only fuels it, which ultimately leads to a misunderstanding that paints Derek as a philanderer to his wife, his co-workers and a pesky cop after Lisa fakes a suicide attempt. And even after the truth came out, Lisa still breaks into Derek and Sharon's house, briefly kidnapping their son and destroying their bedroom, leading to a final showdown between the two fierce women. You'll never guess who wins.
3. Kathy Bates, 'Misery' (1990)
The word "fan" is a derivation of the word "fanatic," and it has never been more literally applicable than in this fantastic adaptation of Stephen King's short story about the brief relationship between a novelist and his biggest fan. Bates won both an Oscar for her scary, and campy, performance as Annie Wilkes, a woman who rescues and nurses back to health novelist Paul Sheldon (James Caan) when his car goes off the road during a blizzard while he's visiting Colorado.
Paul has two broken legs, and is cautious, but grateful when he awakens in Annie's house. He's delighted she's a fan of his "Misery" novels, but when he doesn't return her affections, and when she finds out he planned to kill off the heroine of her beloved "Misery" novels, the denim dress-wearin' Annie wigs out, re-break Paul's legs (in the infamous sledgehammer scene), forces him to rewrite the book and then plots their joint demise.
2. Helena Bonham Carter, 'Harry Potter' Series (2007-2010)
Not your "typical" PWF, sure, but Female Death Eater, aunt to the nasty Draco Malfoy and one of the most loyal cohorts of He Who Must Not Be Named... you know there's going to be some evildoing afoot when all that is part of Bellatrix Lestrange's bio. In "Order of the Phoenix," the first "Potter" movie in which Bellatrix is a major player, she menaces on Voldemort's behalf, and breaks Harry Potter's (Daniel Radcliffe) heart when she kills his godfather (and her own cousin!) Sirius Black (Gary Oldman). She does not get any more sane over the next three installments.
1. Glenn Close, 'Fatal Attraction' (1987)
It's the grandmommy of all PWF flicks, not just because Oscar nominee Glenn Close's Alex tries to kill herself after sleeping with married man Dan (Michael Douglas) or because she pours acid on his car when he later rejects her or because she shows up at his apartment and plays nice with his wife Beth (Anne Archer), all the while pretending not to know Dan. Oh, or because she kidnaps his daughter Ellen from school.
No, she might have gotten away with all that, but the number one rule in movieland is that you can't kill an animal and get away with it, so when Alex breaks into Dan's house, takes Ellen's beloved pet bunny from its hutch and leaves it boiling in a pot on the stove, you know her well-deserved death is imminent.