"Room For Murder" (a.k.a., "The Boarder") is a tawdry tale set in the fictional town of Riverview, California. The glue that holds the film together is the relationship of Moira Atherton and her daughter Kristen.
The mother-daughter bond is strained when Kristen makes a surprise visit home from her studies in Berkeley to learn that her mom has rented out her room to a boarder. The tenant named Jake is half Moira's age, and she has done no background check on him. Mom's little secret that she was keeping from her daughter is that she has been living in sin!
Kristen is a psychology major, and she instantly sizes up Jake for a fraud. But she has no idea that he is hiding a secret from his past. He had murdered a young woman, but was acquitted at trial. He has subsequently changed his name and withheld his unsavory past from Moira.
Apparently, Jake is a serial killer. He kills a woman while jogging, then literally bumps into Kristen's car near the scene of the crime. Because he is wearing a mask, she is unable to offer a 100% positive identification. The dim-witted deputy Ryan Jessup ("Deputy Dog,"), Kristen's former beau before he cheated on her, is slow beyond belief in investigating Jake. This gives Jake the time to kill the effervescent Sherrie, one of Moira's employees at her styling salon.
The film was unpleasant because, apart from Sherrie, who makes her untimely exit from the script, the characters were generally unlikable. After Ryan advises Kristen not to bait Jake, she does precisely that, and the result is that Moira is in grave danger. It is difficult to feel much empathy for Moira, due to her dalliance with her boy toy and her inability to comprehend that he is hiding something from her.
The bottom line is that Moira appears to like things rough, and that is precisely what got from ol' Jake. The film closes with Moira planning to search for a new boarder, as Kristen is heading off to UCLA after transferring from Berkeley. Deputy Dog promises to help Moira in screening the prospective tenants. One can only imagine that Moira will be right back in the maelstrom with another boarder from hell.
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