The legendary Hammer films production company is enjoying quite a comeback as of late; last year they were involved in the remake of Swedish vampire chiller Let The Right One In and this month sees two new releases from them: Wake Wood, about the parents of a girl who was savagely killed by a dog and the second chance they are granted with their deceased daughter and The Resident.
Hilary Swank plays Juliet, a nurse who moved her life to New York to be with the man she believed to be the love of her life. But after discovering he’s cheated on her, she is forced to look for a flat alone. After looking at a few places that don’t suit what she’s looking for, she finds her dream place: cheap rent, beautiful views and a seemingly charming landlord, Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). But after a few nights, she suspects that she’s not alone in the apartment and she quickly learns that Max isn’t the friendly persona that he first appeared to be.
The premise is nothing new; just reading the synopsis should conjure up images from the 1969 classic Psycho. Having an Oscar winner on board though would surely make people think it’s worthy of their time, but alas Swank does her absolute best at being an amateur. Her reactions seem forced, and her screaming even more so. She also bathes much more than necessary, revealing parts of her body that should never be seen by anyone not in a relationship with her. It’s not all out nudity, but it may as well be with the amount of skin on show.
All the tricks in the book are to create tension: it’s either silence for an extended period of time, then bursts of noise, or the music rises to an earsplitting crescendo the total silence. Although it does work on rare occasions, the formula quickly becomes tiresome, and events become predictable.
The biggest point that hurt the film is that Max just doesn’t look menacing at all. His warm smile removes any kind of seriousness as a creep; he looks more likely to return your cat that’s wandered into the hallway than sneak around the room at night to watch you sleep. He does get a little creepier towards the end, but his original introduction leaves the feeling that he isn’t such a bad guy. There’s a lot of male hate here though; it’s not just directed at Max and his depiction of being a creepy obsessive pervert, but her ex boyfriend Jack (Lee Pace) isn’t shown in a great light either as the cheating, lying dream shattering boneheads. This is very much a “girl power!” movie, with Juliet even having the typical “honey, you were better off without him *click click*” friend. But then, it goes back on this theme by putting Juliet and Jack back together, a plot point that just didn’t make any sense. She’s supposed to be an independent female, but goes running back to the guy who cheated on her because he says he’s sorry. Not only that, he reveals he followed her home and she swoons, finding it romantic. So theoretically, if she found out what her landlord was doing, she’d fall at his feet?
If there was anything good about this poor excuse for a horror/thriller, it’s Christopher Lee. His presence, although minor, will bring a smile to even the most casual horror fan. It’s a shame that his return to the genre and company that made him famous is in such a flat picture.
Even at a lean 87 minutes, The Resident overstays its welcome: either due to pacing issues or simply because it just isn’t that interesting. However, it’s successful in one respect: it tarnishes the reputation of the most famous Horror production company of all time.