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When a young doctor suspects she may not be alone in her new Brooklyn loft, she learns that her landlord has formed a frightening obsession with her.
For more about The Resident and the The Resident Blu-ray release, see the The Resident Blu-ray Review published by Casey Broadwater on March 29, 2011 where this Blu-ray release scored 2.0 out of 5.
Starring: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee
Director: Antti J. Jokinen
» See full cast & crew
The Resident Blu-ray Review
Rent, buy, or stay away?
Reviewed by Casey Broadwater, March 29, 2011
The horror industry, of late, has been defined by resurrections: remakes of old classics, reboots of entire franchises, and even—in the case of Hammer Film Productions—the rebirth of a long-dead fright film imprint. "Hammer Horror" was ubiquitous between the 1950s and 1970s, as the U.K. studio churned out scores of low-budget chillers, many featuring the iconic movie monsters of the 1930s—Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Mummy. However, as audiences grew both more sophisticated and less shocked by explicit gore, interest in Hammer's schlock-driven output dwindled and the studio basically went into hibernation. That is, until 2007, when the brand and its entire catalog were purchased by a Dutch company intent on bringing Hammer Horror back to life. This new incarnation of the label had an initial hit with 2010's Let Me In—the remake of the Swedish vampire film Let the Right One In—but its follow-up, The Resident, is a straight-to-video disaster, despite the efforts of cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (Pan's Labyrinth), and a strong cast that includes Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lee Pace, and Hammer Horror mainstay Christopher Lee.
You may well wonder, "What is Academy Award-winning actress Hilary Swank doing in this below-mediocre genre pic?" (And if you aren't, you definitely will after watching the film.) I have no answer for that one. The Boys Don't Cry and Million Dollar Baby thespian—most recently seen in the true-crime legal drama Conviction—seems to be slumming here, her talents squandered in a by-the-numbers thriller that never thrills. Swank plays Dr. Juliet Dermer, an Emergency Room surgeon who has recently split with her philandering husband, Jack (Lee Pace), a tool who blames his cheating heart on her workaholic schedule. Finding a new place to live is no easy task—especially not in New York—but Juliet gets a steal in a spacious Brooklyn loft that's suspiciously underpriced. (If you can call $3,800/mo cheap. Apparently, for Juliet, it is.) The place comes with another major perk: her landlord, Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan), is a total hottie, a tender, chivalrous shy guy who has spent his life caring for his ailing grandfather, August (Christopher Lee). What a sweetheart, and how self-sacrificial! Before you can say "rebound," Juliet and Max are making lovey-dovey eyes at one another and taking the first timid steps toward a relationship. They bump into each other at an art gallery! He walks her home! They giggle about the ridiculous middle name her hippy parents gave her! ("Bliss") He makes her a candle-lit dinner! But just when they begin to stumble toward bed together, the film throws us an abrupt, screeching, needle-off-the-record moment.
We suddenly rewind and review the events of the past few days from Max's perspective, and as it turns out, he's actually a total stalker, having gone to great lengths to lure Juliet to her new apartment, which he's tricked out with all sorts of strategically located peep holes and secret compartments. Double-sided mirrors? Check. Passageways between the walls? Check. Hidden closet where Max conducts his feverish masturbate-a- thons? Double check. This is no spoiler. It happens thirty minutes into the film. There's no suspense, no mystery, no build-up to a shocking surprise. The film just spills it all out like so much wine tipped from a glass. This is a mistake for a number of reasons. 1.) It completely kills what little tension the film had generated up to this point, 2.) in a fit of shoddy editing, we're forced to sit through a lengthy montage of scenes we've already seen, and 3.) the too-soon reveal leaves the film with no surprises up its figurative sleeves. Why give it away so soon? For the rest of the movie I kept waiting for a narrative twist that never came, because this is about as complicated as it gets: Max is a deviant who wants to perv out watching Juliet during bath time. That's it. Sure, late in the game Max gives a confession along the lines of "I thought maybe you would be the one to change me," but the dramatic dynamics are downplayed in favor of simple lurid peeping tom-ism. The Resident is essentially about a dude who gets increasingly more brazen in his depraved, misguided attempts at intimacy.
It just doesn't work…at all. It's not scary, it's not shocking; it's just slimy, to the point of being unintentionally comic. Okay, maybe it's a little creepy the first time we see Max hiding under Juliet's bed, trying to restrain his heavy breathing, but by the time he's using her toothbrush to brush his own teeth, touching himself in her bathtub, and slipping Rohypnol into her wine bottles so he can jack off over her sleeping body, The Resident has devolved into a laughably bad B-movie so gender stereotyped that it actually seems sexist to both sexes. Yes, Hammer Horror has a history of sleaze, but none of the studio's camp cult classics—Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, say, or The Vampire Lovers—were ever as joylessly executed as The Resident, which is far too serious for its own good. What use is a pervy film that isn't any fun? And what use is a strong cast when they're given little to do? Lee Pace probably has five lines of dialogue in the whole film and Christopher Lee spends most of the movie glowering semi-ominously from behind a half-closed door. Neither of their characters is of any consequence to the plot. Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a likeable actor, and his early scenes with Swank—the ones before we know he's a creep—have genuine chemistry, but when Max goes full-on psycho, Morgan totally loses the audience. As for Swank, what's there to say? She's here, she gets (partially) naked, and she does a lot of fretting about her apartment, convinced—rightfully—that someone's watching her. Even Juliet's violent retribution—after a cat and mouse chase through the walls of the building—feels tiredly predictable.
The Resident Blu-ray, Video Quality
For all its irredeemable awfulness as a thriller, The Resident actually looks quite good on Blu-ray, thanks largely to Guillermo Navarro's moody cinematography. The film's 1080p/AVC-encoded transfer seems faithful to its 35mm source material, with a thin-but-rich veneer of cinematic grain—no DNR abuses here—and no noticeable evidence of edge enhancement. There are momentary hiccups in clarity—these seem more like a focusing/lens issue than a transfer problem—but most of the film is crisp and well-defined, with strong detail visible in key areas, like the actors' faces and clothing. Color is both bleak and vibrant, with a palette defined by coppery skin tones, rich neutral hues, and occasional splashes of brightness, like red wine from a shattered glass or the robin's egg blues of Juliet's O.R. scrubs. There's one scene where both Juliet and Max are wearing white shirts, and I was impressed by how the highlights seem creamy rather than overblown. Black levels are more than sufficiently deep, and although detail is often lost in deep, crushing shadows, this is an essential, intentional part of the film's high contrast aesthetic. Finally, I didn't spot any overt compression or encode irregularities. Overall, a high rent transfer for a low rent film.
The Resident Blu-ray, Audio Quality
I could say the same for The Resident's DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround track, which is more interesting and involving than the film's story ever is. There are even moments when the mix seems perhaps too active. This is apparent from the very first frames, as a pounding, histrionic score plays over the title sequence, the music as bombastic and loud as possible. It sounds great—rich and forceful—but it is melodramatic to a fault. The film does make excellent use of the surround channels, however. Nearly every scene features some kind of mood-establishing ambience—New York City street clamor, subway cars rattling through the rears, rapid chatter and clattering instruments in the E.R., dripping water in some subterranean cellar—and there are countless directional effects, from impressionistically disembodied voices in the surrounds to frequent bump-in-the- night noises. Periodically, the LFE channel underscores the over-the-top dread with a throbbing low-end hum. Within all this aural action, dialogue remains rooted and intelligible, sounding full and acoustically accurate. For that that need or want them, English SDH and Spanish subtitle tracks are available in easy to read lettering.
The Resident Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
The disc's sole supplement is the film's theatrical trailer, in high definition, running just under two minutes.
The Resident Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
With a title like The Resident, I was hoping for something more along the lines of The Tenant or Repulsion—two much better films about people losing their minds in their apartments—but instead I got a predictable, so-serious-it's-silly would-be thriller with a severe lack of thrills. Here's hoping the next Hammer Film Productions production is worthy of the "Hammer Horror" name. This one isn't. I should've known when I looked at first-time feature director Antti Jokinen's previous credits: music videos for, amongst others, Celine Dion, Kelly Clarkson, and yes, Korn.
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