Image Entertainment // 2011 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Appellate Judge Tom Becker // February 11th, 2011
She thought she was living alone.
After a bad break-up with her boyfriend (Lee Pace, Soldier's Girl), Juliet (Hilary Swank, Beverly Hills 90210), an ER doctor in New York City, goes apartment hunting. A mysterious phone call leads her to a building in Brooklyn owned by Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen), a handsome and sensitive guy who lets Juliet rent a freakishly spacious pad for a comparative song.
Unfortunately for Juliet, this apartment comes with its own baggage: a stalker who desires our heroine in that kind of crazy way that stalkers do.
Note that above, when Hilary Swank is referenced, it's as an actress from Beverly Hills 90210. Why not connect her to her more prestigious films, like Conviction or Amelia, or her Oscar roles in Boys Don't Cry or Million Dollar Baby?
Because The Resident is a 90210 alum film. It wouldn't have played any differently if Swank's role had been taken by Tiffani Amber Thiessen, Shannen Doherty, Jennie Garth, or Joe E. Tata. This is just another random, generic, pseudo-erotic Direct-to-Video thriller that promises little and delivers less.
The film starts with Swank's Juliet looking for an apartment. Even though we assume she's lived in NYC for a while, she's stunned to discover that the market consists mainly of small studio rentals, and thus we're given a scene right out of a '70s comedy in which our dim-but-plucky doctor incredulously checks out a one-roomer with a Murphy bed.
When a mysterious phone call (that Juliet mentions but we never hear) lures her to Max's place, she thinks it's a dream come true, but those of us who've seen New York apartment-horror films like Rosemary's Baby and The Sentinel know this is a deal made...in Hell! And if there's any doubt that Juliet is moving in to a pied-à-terre of terror, living just down the hall is the Betty White of horror...Christopher Lee! Yes, Dracula's living in 3B! He'll steal your newspapers, your UPS deliveries -- and your soul! How scary can this get?
Unfortunately, not very. Reporting that this is not a supernatural story is probably something of a spoiler, but it's also a service. Just as you're getting stoked for brides (or baby mamas) of Satan and unsettled, wall-dwelling ghoulies, writer/director Antti Jokinen pulls the rug right out from under you and presents an uninspired woman-imperiled-by-loon scenario.
I won't reveal who the actual loon is, though you'll figure it out by glancing at the box cover. The stalker watches Juliet while she's doing things like bathing (apparently the only thing she does at home, besides sleeping), strolls around the apartment while she's asleep, and eventually drugs her and fiddles about -- an admittedly creepy bit of business, and the strongest sequence in the film.
The loon is given a bit of backstory that's blurted out by another character and then forgotten. It might have been more interesting having a loon with no discernible motivation rather than the half-baked explanation served up here. While it's reasonably tense, it's all too contained, and the full-on shocks never come. Logic problems abound -- if Juliet can pay 45K a year in rent and consider it a bargain, why doesn't she just buy something? -- and by the time everyone's running around a sweaty-piped basement, it's clear we've seen this movie before.
Lee doesn't do much here at all -- his presence is strictly an excuse to put his name in the credits, significant particularly since this film is from Hammer. Pace doesn't make much of an impression, but Morgan is pretty good as the landlord. As for Swank, she pretty much walks through this one. Although she's won two well-deserved Oscars, I don't know if Swank is the kind of actress who can really elevate mediocre material. In a well-written role with some depth, she's great, completely submerging herself in the character, but in a part like this, which is underwritten and depends on the personality of the actress to carry it, she just doesn't make much of an impression.
Since Image sent over a screener, there's no way of knowing how the DVD will look or sound, or if there'll be any supplements to speak of.
This disappointingly unremarkable effort isn't any kind of return to form for the once great House of Hammer. A derivative low-chills thriller, The Resident is an unwelcome wagon.
Review content copyright © 2011 Tom Becker; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2014 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 1.78:1 Anamorphic
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (English)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R