Hilary Swank & Viewers Are Terrorized In The Resident

HAMMER, the iconic label of the 70's is back but it's not necessarily a good thing.  They returned to give us Matt Reeves' LET ME IN last year which didn't live up to its original.  It's second production as a newly revamped studio is The Resident.  Later this year they will unveil Wake Wood and a remake of The Woman In Black, and maybe it's too soon to say, but the future of Hammer films looks a bit lackluster.

The Resident could have been terrifying, it could have been an awesome variation on apartment horror, but instead it's a very dull mixture of Sliver and Repulsion - emphasis on Sliver.  First time narrative filmmaker Antti Jokinen was provided enough backing and talent to produce a psychological masterpiece, but gets caught up in creating the same scare effect over and over again.  We get that you were heavily influenced by the scene in Halloween where Carpenter makes Michael materialize out of the shadows.  The first time Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Denny from Grey's Anatomy, the comedian from Watchmen, and the dad on Supernatural) steps out of the darkness - there is a genuine scare, but after the ninth or tenth time it just doesn't pack a punch.  The biggest problem with the landlord constantly creeping around Swank's apartment is that eventually the audience is more interested in if he gets caught then what he's doing there.  We found ourselves cringing at the fact of him being caught too early, because their would apparently be no film if he did.  Every moment here is predictable, even if one were to write a spoiler free review it wouldn't matter.

Lets look at these two characters: Morgan is the landlord of a beautiful old building in Brooklyn.  His father shot his mother then took his own life.  His grandfather played by the regrettably underused Christopher Lee complains about how weak Morgan and his father were.  He gets his kicks by watching his new tenant masturbate in the bathtub and develops a relationship with her in his mind that nearly comes to fruition but prior to penetration is told to leave.  This of course sets him spiraling out of control: he wants to have her any way he can.  Now for Swank.  She's a doctor in the ER and had a long time boyfriend (the amazing Lee Pace from The Fall and Pushing Daises) who cheated on her and wants her back.  She falls for Morgan, but ultimately wants the cheating boyfriend back.  Her life seems to be coming together when she invites the cheat back in.  So why does this film happen?  Maybe the moment Swank realizes her cheating boyfriend is who she wants to be with and pushes Morgan off of her - his sanity completely snaps.  Whatever the impetus for this film, it never lives up to what it could have been.

When Morgan leaves the real world, he starts drugging Swank and raping her every night.  This isn't really ever shown - and this could have been the film.  That is truly terrifying.  Morgan does carry the film, with his outward gentlemanliness and kindness while underneath his growing insanity beginning to shine through.  Swank is just there.  She's pretty to look at, because most of the time this is how we see her: through keyholes and grates as she's undressing.  When she puts together the puzzle there is no amazing scream queen moment, but we do get retaliation with a great weapon.

The film should have been an homage to Polanski's apartment trilogy, mix that with the recent unrelenting French horror and the film would have been glorious.  Had Swank let Morgan's twin brother die in the hospital and forced her to move into the building just to stalk and kill her for his brother's death.  Add in the nightly raping and surrealistic dream imagery, "This is not a dream, this is really happening," and have her psyche crumbling more and more each day - brilliant.  Yes, The Resident had potential but as a final product, totally blew it.

Rating: II/V


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