According to press notes for the dreary "Anacardium," the film's title means "cashew nuts," presumably in Latin. That is about the extent of the interest this boring would-be psychological thriller generates. It has the feeling of a deadly routine adaptation of a deadly routine play. The only mystery is how this film managed to get made; at any rate, it's strictly for the video store bin.

Chris, played by Richard Ruccolo, is an all-American type in his 30s who answers a want ad for a female roommate placed by Frank John Hughes' Rich, an auto mechanic from Chicago who has recently arrived in Los Angeles.

When Rich answers the door, Chris explains he's looking for a place to live on behalf of a female colleague. Once he has his foot in the door of Rich's archetypal, early '50s ranch-style home, Chris admits that he's actually looking for himself. Rich, a wiry, surly type, reluctantly agrees to take Chris as a roommate. For a few minutes, writer-director Scott Thomas manages to keep us wondering what's really going on beneath the surface.

But "Anacardium" is so talky and trite, such a tired genre retread, that there's no reason to care about what's happening or what's going to happen--and it doesn't get better as it goes along, even if there's a surprise twist at the finish.

Both Hughes and Ruccolo are solid professionals with substantial experience, mainly in television.

It's not their fault that "Anacardium" never comes alive.

*

Unrated. Times guidelines: There are scenes of standard genre violence.

'Anacardium'

Frank John Hughes...Rich

Richard Ruccolo...Chris

Laura Cayouette...Ashley

Sean Masterson...Lawyer

An MYL Entertainment and Anacardium Productions presentation in association with Americom. Writer-director Scott Thomas. Producers Mike Erwin and J. Max Kirishima. Art director Ernie Roth. Set decorator Mark Gannes.

Exclusively at the Grande 4-Plex for one week, 345 S. Figueroa St., L.A., (213) 617-0268.