Dead Man on Campus is a black comedy dealing with college life and a rather gruesome, but fictitious, urban legend. However, for a black comedy, the humor here is well on the bland side, and definitely not worth the price of tuition.
Josh (Tom Everett Scott) is a college freshman His roommate is Cooper (Mark-Paul Gosselaar), a ne’er do well student who’s more interested in sex, drugs and alcohol than in books and classes. When the two roommates clash styles, Cooper prevails… at least until mid-semester. Then the two students try to determine how to salvage their failing grades and stay in school.
They pin their hopes on an old school legend. If a student commits suicide, his or her roommates will be given straight-As to compensate for grief. Since neither Josh nor Cooper want to be the sacrifice, they decide to hunt out the most suicide-prone fellow student to be their roommate.
Dead Man on Campus takes far too long to launch into this main plot thread. To put it frankly, Josh and Cooper are rather boring. It isn’t until their intended roommates/victims show up that things start to get interesting.
One of those roommates in particular, a truly insane student named Cliff (Lochlyn Munro), possesses an abundance of the energy which Dead Man on Campus so desperately needs. The film perks up when he’s around, but not enough for a complete redemption.
The biggest failing of Dead Man on Campus is the lack of a strong central character. Despite the “party” atmosphere, neither Tom Everett Scott nor Mark-Paul Gosselaar seem to be people you’d like to hang out around. Unfortunately, we’re forced to for ninety minutes. A more personable actor, or a better written character, might have made that stretch bearable.
In an unusual twist of fate (or perhaps a lack of ideas), there is actually another movie dealing with the college roommate-suicide urban legend coming out in a few months, Dead Man’s Curve. It won’t be hard to have better success than Dead Man on Campus.