Directed by: Antti J. Jokinen
Written by: Antti Jokinen, Robert Orr, Erin Cressida Wilson
Starring: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee
Studio: Hammer Film Productions
Review by: Eric Stuckart
There is a very fine line when it comes to suspense dramas. Go too far over that line and the whole thing falls apart for a myriad of reasons. If you have to suspend your disbelief too much, many times the whole affair becomes an exercise in clichés and cheesy dialogue, and you end up laughing at the scenario rather than getting wrapped up in the characters and their problems.
This is the most prevalent issue with The Resident, a direct-to-DVD (and Blu-ray) film starring Hilary Swank as Juliet Devereau, a recently-single doctor who just wants to find a nice, affordable apartment in New York. To her surprise, she thinks she found the perfect loft for an unbelievable price when she meets handsome Max, effortlessly alternating between charismatic and unbelievably creepy, courtesy of Jeffrey Dean Morgan. The loft is beautiful and spacious, and she’s quick to move in. But soon after, she begins to feel like she’s being watched, and paranoia quickly sets in. Is it Max, or is it his equally disturbing grandfather (Christopher Lee)?
The film is shot well, with tense, foreboding camerawork when needed, and it is impressive to see how far Morgan sinks into his role. Some of the things he does in the film really make him seem like he isn’t acting, and you can see the two sides of his psyche kind of battle it out from time to time, giving the film a bit more depth than your run-of-the-mill thrillers. Unfortunately, there are way too many laugh-out-loud moments throughout the film, and by the end the whole thing comes undone, revealing a climax that screams out stereotypical psycho-stalker drama more than it should have.
With all the tension building up, seeing it resort to a less finessed ending was a bit of a letdown, especially seeing some of the things that Juliette does towards the end. Considering the fact that she’s a doctor in an emergency room and is used to needing to think on her feet, she makes some pretty clichéd mistakes that you’d be more likely to see in a slasher flick than the taut, intelligent suspense film it was trying to make itself out to be.
Despite that, Swank and Morgan are both perfect in their roles, with the only stiff one out of the bunch being Lee Pace, cast as Juliette’s boyfriend, who ends up setting Max into an obsessive rage. His interactions seemed forced and unnatural, and it doesn’t help that he frankly didn’t look believable as a love interest for her.
Uneven, but still interesting throughout, The Resident should be a good rental for fans of suspense films, but don’t expect to be wowed too much. There are way too many scenes early on that just make you scratch your head that end up taking you out of the film. Watch it once just to see how messed up it gets, because it definitely gets points for going pretty far without having to show too much, a sign of good filmmaking. The restraint actually adds to the tension, and Morgan revels in his depraved character, making him the best part of the film.
The Blu-ray of this film was unspectacular on pretty much all counts. All it features is the film, which had no complaints from me in audio or video quality, and a trailer for the film, which was in grainy, standard definition. I suppose that’s a moot point considering not many people look to watch the trailer of the film they just watched, but when that’s the only feature of the entire Blu-ray, you might not want to botch that up. Otherwise, that’s it. There are a couple of cheesy previews before the film, but nothing else. No deleted scenes, no commentary, zip, nada. Like I said, buy The Resident if you want to see Jeffrey Dean Morgan play a total creep, but other than that, this Blu-ray really has nothing substantial to offer.
For more info, http://www.hammerfilms.com
Pads & Panels received a copy of the Blu-Ray courtesy of the studio for review purposes.