Written by: Antti Jokinen and Robert Orr
Directed by: Antti Jokinen
Starring: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and Christopher Lee
Reviewed by: Brett G.
She thought she was living aloneÖ
Let Me In beat The Resident to the punch of claiming the distinction of Hammer Filmsí comeback debut; however, the latter film can actually claim to have been put into production first, as it began shooting all the way back in 2009. It also boasts some star power in the form of Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, and a very familiar face to Hammer fans: Christopher Lee. This represents a nice bit of symmetry, as Lee also starred in the studioís ďlast film,Ē To the Devil a Daughter, over 30 years ago.
Swank is Juliet Devereau, a workaholic doctor whose husband recently cheated on her. This spurned her to strike out on her own and find a new place. She eventually finds a spacious loft apartment with a friendly landlord (Morgan) who owns the building with his elderly grandfather (Lee). It all seems too good to be true, and, of course, it is. It turns out that the landlord is a bit of a creep who likes to spy on his tenants, and he develops an obsession for Juliet.
The Resident essentially plays out like a big-budget Lifetime movie, as it pits a seemingly helpless woman against a seedy, lecherous predator. Itís an awkwardly plotted one at that, as the film unfolds rather leisurely for about a half hour; itís at this point that weíre treated to an extended Saw-like flashback that reveals that things might not have been as they seemed, as Juliet didnít end up at this apartment building by chance. This effectively kills the filmís momentum, however, as the only remaining drama finds us waiting to see how long Juliet catches on to it all. We know the film is leading to such a revelation; in the meantime, Morgan creeps. Then creeps some more. Intermittently, Swank sleeps. And sleeps some more. Apartments have proven to be dreadful and suffocating environments in the past, but this one is somnolent by comparison.
We spend most of our time watching Morgan do some greasy stuff, like use Swankís toothbrush and hide under her bed. Terrifying, obviously. Fret not, sleaze fans--things get much worse. But it is sort of amusing to see him creep around, as his gift of stealth makes him a prime candidate to enlist in a ninja clan. One wonders why he even bothers to drug Swank later in the film, as it doesnít seem to be particularly necessary early on. Then again, most everything in this film happens just because the script seemingly calls for it. For example, when Morgan finally snaps, thereís no real impetus--he just does so because itís time for the third act to begin. Similarly, Swank seems to forget about the video security system she installs midway in the film, and she doesnít check it until the very end. To do so any earlier would shorten the run-time, after all.
As such, The Resident is a suspense thriller without much suspense and few thrills. Itís a generic offering that isnít befitting of any of the talent in front of the camera or behind it (in fact, even OTH-favorite Renny Harlin pops up in the filmís legion of producers). No one does a particularly poor job--Swank is a convincing, vulnerable workaholic, and Morgan does a fine job of convincing us heís a really sweet guy. Itís kind of a shame that the film reveals otherwise far too soon, though it is kind of fun to see him oscillate between both modes. Unfortunately, Lee spends most of the film standing in doorways and eerily peering at Swank before he unceremoniously drops out in the second act. You wonít get much out of it besides the novelty of actually seeing Lee appearing in a new Hammer Film (which is admittedly pretty cool). Perhaps the best news to emerge out of this is the fact that Lee Pace is still getting work after Pushing Daisies was cancelled (heís Swankís ex, who naturally gets caught up in all of the proceedings).
It was probably for the best that Let Me In carried the Hammer banner first; The Resident is a rather tame offering despite its relative star power and generally good production values. It feels exactly like a film thatís been sitting on the shelf for a while. Image Entertainment dusted it off, though, and has given it both a DVD and Blu-ray release; I sampled the latter, and itís a decent presentation. Itís not reference quality, but the transfer is artifact-free, and the DTS-MA track is appropriately loud. There arenít any special features, but the disc is priced on a budget. There was actually a movie similar to this one back in 1986--Crawlspace, which found the always creepy Klaus Kinski similarly stalking his female tenants from behind the walls. Itís a much more interesting film than this one; as far as apartment thrillers go, this is one to check out after seeing all the others. Rent it!
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