Director: Antti Jokenin
Cast: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan & Christopher Lee
The Resident is a voyeuristic thriller that never actually scares, thrills or excites. It is another generically tame game of cat and mouse that reveals its plot twist too early and boasts of big names to fill seats. Antti Jokenin’s direction is decent and the cinematography is well above par but this cannot mask the clichéd script, miscast actors and most certainly cannot excuse the blood-drenched finale.
Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) is a newly single A&E doctor who has moved to New York after her boyfriend (Jack Lee) cheated with another woman. In her search for an apartment she uncovers a newly-renovated sixth floor paradise with as much charisma and charm as the shy but suave landlord, Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Swank, who has obviously never seen a horror film, chooses to ignore the looming presence of the ailing grandfather (Christopher Lee) and accept the strange, nocturnal occurrences that plague the building. Run away, Hilary, run away!
The introduction is pleasantly surprising. Swank and Lee are household names who command our attention, and we offer it to them. However, a choppy, over-edited flashback sequence undermines the possibility of a compelling narrative, as it succeeds in foregrounding Morgan’s status as the ominous landlord. This is followed by a series of almost laughable encounters (one in which he sucks and bites on Swank’s fingers in a cringe-inducing manner.) His ability to embody the warm, welcoming Max of the first half-hour is undermined by his inability to portray the chronically disturbed Max in the final scenes. However, Lee is eerily potent but under-utilised as he spends most of his time lurking in doorways.
Antti Jokenin’s latest offering cumulates in an inevitably blood-soaked finale with few actual scares. One cannot help but recall Chekhov’s theory that “one must not [show] a loaded rifle…if no one is thinking of firing it”. Replace the word rifle with nailgun and perhaps the film’s brutally bloodthirsty close will succeed making you vomit or laugh. Or both.
By Katherine Murphy
The Trailer to The Resident