Resident, The (US - BD RA)
Gabe knew the rent here was too low for something not to go horribly wrong...
Following a messy breakup, New York City ER doctor Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank) begins looking for an affordable apartment. Her search ends when she comes across a massive, God knows how many bedroom flat. When she asks the owner/super Max (Jeffery Dean Morgan) why the rent is so impossibly affordable, he explains that he’s working on the building, and that the construction noise chases away most tenants. Juliet believes Max, and strikes up a friendship with him, despite finding his grandfather August (Christopher Lee), who lives down the hall, more than a bit creepy. Juliet and Max’s relationship veers towards the romantic, but she can’t fully shake her feelings for her previous lover Jack (Lee Pace). The news doesn’t go over well with Max.
As a psychological horror film The Resident (not to be confused with Hitchcock’s The Lodger or Polanski’s The Tenant) occasionally works, at least on basic terms. The scares are predictable and the disturbing elements are repetitive, but there are certainly moments that will make the audience’s skin crawl as intended. The bigger problem is the character drama and back story, which really reeks of third generation Psycho recycling, minus any intuitive updates to the human condition. It’s almost impossible to care at all about Swank’s romantic relationship because it’s only present as an afterthought, and because it’s easier to bring back a former flame than to effectively develop a second relationship in such a brief runtime. Jeffrey Dean Morgan does his best Anthony Perkins impression with enough of a personal twist, but there’s a lot of inadvertent comedy found behind his character’s actions, such as a moment where he uses Swank’s toothbrush when she’s not home. The sentiment is certainly creepy, but the action is goofy. The biggest problem, however, is the structure, which gives away way too much at the end of the first act. This allows Morgan a chance to shine as an actor, but makes for a depressingly dull middle act, which leads to a climatic showdown that is well made enough to have deserved a better build up. First time feature film director Antti Jokinen has enough style in his back pocket to make up for some of the script problems, but ultimately it’s not enough to overcome the lack of substance.
Despite it’s modest budget and aspirations, The Resident has one huge thing in its production value corner – cinematographer Guillermo Navarro. This project doesn’t quite compare Navarro’s work with Guillermo del Toro, but for what basically amounts to an STV horror flick you could certainly do a lot worse. Navarro plays with high contrasts, pinpointed highlights, and an aggressive palette. The transfer is at its best when it comes to discernable details masked in total darkness, and the purity of the more vibrant hues. Almost every colour element pops sharply against the deep blacks, or, barring utter darkness, contrasting colour elements. These aggressive colour elements feature no noticeable blocking effects, even the brightest reds, and other digital artefacts are extremely rare. Film grain is a constant, but consistent element, and adds effective texture to the proceedings.
This DTS-HD Master Audio track also ups the production values with aggressive, spooky surround effects. The sound design isn’t what anyone would mistake for original, but it does the whole ‘hyper stylized loud bangs’ thing a lot better than most films of its type. Aural contrast is impressive, leading to some effectively shattering noises that don’t feature any noticeable high end distortion. The majority of foley and source sound effects are centered, but there are some nicely executed surround and stereo effects that create a decent aural scope, especially to the final 20 or so minutes. Most of the directional work is either abstract noise (I noticed quite a bit of whale song) or obvious musical score.
The only extras here are a standard definition trailer and a couple of trailers for other Image releases.
The Resident would’ve probably worked better as a short subject, perhaps an episode of Tales From the Crypt or one part of a horror anthology, but as a feature film it only endures because of a strong performance on the part of Jeffery Dean Morgan, and some impressive cinematographer from Guillermo Navarro. Christopher Lee is also entirely wasted. I recommend everyone but Morgan’s biggest fans skip this one in favour of David Schmoeller’s Crawlspace – a super sleazy Klaus Kinski vehicle that takes basically the exact same story and makes it entertaining by way of remorseless sex and violence. It’s on the Netflix instant streaming as of this writing. This Blu-ray looks pretty great, and sounds impressive enough, but features no extras outside of a trailer.
*Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray's image quality.
Review by Gabriel Powers
Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian
Release Date: 29th March 2011
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH and Spanish
Easter Egg: No
Director: Antti Jokinen
Cast: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace
Length: 91 minutes