Image Entertainment // 2011 // 91 Minutes // Rated R
Reviewed by Judge Gordon Sullivan // April 8th, 2011
She thought she was living alone...
Can we please put a moratorium on two-word titles that start with "the"? Sometimes this kind of title, like The Ring, works pretty well. It can be mysterious, evocative, and have a clever connection to the material in the film. However, that kind of thing only works for so long -- there are only so many words in the English language, and even fewer that work as a noun following "the." Eventually, novel combinations are no longer available unless we end up with The Tired or The Uninteresting. Based on The Resident, we're almost there. The film is a tepid thriller that fully earns its boring, generic title. Despite some committed performances by fine actors, The Resident (Blu-ray) can't overcome the fact that the audience has seen this film before, and generating scares when the audience knows what's coming is nigh-impossible.
The Resident refers to Dr. Juliet Devereau (Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby), a young ER physician in NYC who just broke up with her man. She needs a cheap, quiet place to hang her hat, and along comes the perfect apartment. It's even owned by a cute guy (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Watchmen) and his grandfather (Christopher Lee, The Wicker Man). Of course a cheap apartment in the big city always has a price attached to it, and it doesn't take long before Dr. Juliet is convinced she's not alone in her apartment.
I half-envy those lucky few who are going to catch The Resident on cable with no knowledge of what it's about. Once you've seen the scary cover art and even glanced at the plot summary, it's pretty obvious who the villain is. Without that knowledge, the first third of The Resident would actually be pretty interesting. We're introduced to the cheery Dr. Juliet, her hunky super Max, and the sometimes-creepy apartment she's renting. When a little bit of romance blossoms between Juliet and Max, the film throws up a surprise -- apparently Max ran into Juliet months ago and fell into a creepy kind of love with her. He saw an ad that said she was looking for an apartment and set it up so that she would find him (making everything look less creepy from her point of view). It's a nice three- or four-minute sequence that shows how everything we thought we knew about these two was wrong. It's also the highlight of the film. Having seen the cover for the Blu-ray, I knew Max was going to turn out to be the bad guy, but this sequence was interesting enough to make me forget that I knew he was going to be a creep. I can imagine those who see the movie with no prior knowledge might be even more surprised and find this a really shocking and engaging scene.
Of course after we know for certain that Max is the bad guy, the rest of the film unfolds like a really generic thriller. Juliet slowly tips to the fact that she's not alone at night (she keeps missing her alarm because Max is drugging her). She tries to rekindle her relationship with her ex, which only makes Max more deranged. Eventually there's a confrontation, and I don't think it would be hard to guess who triumphs in the end. This is a fairly tired story, and once Max is revealed as the bad guy, there's nothing the film can do to generate any serious thrills or dread. Sure, I guess we care that something bad is happening to Juliet, but watching Jeffrey Dean Morgan lick Hilary Swank's fingers while she's knocked out just isn't that terrifying.
In the film's defense, everyone involved is totally committed to making the tired plot work. Hilary Swank gives her all to the performance, and lets director Antti Jokinen follow her around with an almost stalker-ish intensity throughout the performance. Jeffrey Dean Morgan turns on the charm initially as Max, but as he slowly unravels becomes more and more threatening. Even Christopher Lee gives his all for the few brief scenes he's in. Sadly, even their strong performances are not enough to raise The Resident up to anything beyond mediocre.
The Blu-ray itself is only slightly above mediocre as well. The 2.35:1 AVC-encoded transfer is generally strong, with nice detail and inky blacks. The DTS-HD soundtrack is similarly strong, with nice bass and a few atmospheric effects. However, the disc has no extras to speak of. I hardly think this is the high point of anyone's work history, but a few words from the cast and filmmakers would have been appreciated.
The final insult added to the injury of The Resident is the fact that it's released under the Hammer Studios banner. Not everything the studio made was top-quality, but it has a reputation that doesn't deserved to be sullied by the uninspired "thrills" of The Resident. Only fans who are obsessed with any of the actors should bother with this tepid little flick.
Guilty of wasting talented actors on a tired script.
Review content copyright © 2011 Gordon Sullivan; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: Image Entertainment
* 2.35:1 Non-Anamorphic (1080p)
* DTS HD 5.1 Master Audio (English)
* English (SDH)
Running Time: 91 Minutes
Release Year: 2011
MPAA Rating: Rated R