Film: The Resident
UK Release date: Out now
Director: Antii Jokinen
Starring: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Christopher Lee, Lee Pace, Aunjanue Ellis
Reviewer: Adam Wing
It might seem rather churlish of me to deny Hammer Films The Resident a brief introduction, but that will come in time. What I really want to do is share a review with you from an online buyer. Try to ignore the punctuation, or lack there of - I think it was written in crayon. “HAMMER films are back or are they time will tell but this is not a bad film great cameo from that 70s bloke cut from lord of the rings. Good family fun give it a go. and it has the nutter from watchmen.”
Pretty much says it all really. When a young doctor (Hilary Swank) suspects she may not be alone in her new Brooklyn loft, she learns that her landlord (the nutter from Watchmen) has formed a frightening obsession with her. Director Antti Jokinen takes the helm, bringing with him a small but reliable cast of big name stars, including Jeffrey Dean Morgan and the one and only Christopher Lee. Hammer Legend. Screen Icon. That 70s bloke cut from lord of the rings. I mean really, it’s not even Level 2 English. Please don’t get me started on the whole ‘good family fun’ thing, unless of course you’re talking about the Manson family.
It’s a straightforward premise, one that finds Jokinen’s camera lingering on Hilary Swank’s curves for the majority of the running time (or maybe that should read Hilary Swank’s body double). Swank plays Juliet, a lonely, insecure and confused woman seeking an apartment after breaking up with her boyfriend. Max (that nutter again) runs the apartment building, a charming middle-aged man who takes an immediate shine to her. If anything, his nice guy routine is a little too convincing, because when it comes time to bring out the sinister undertones, Morgan fails to convince in the manner he should.
The same can’t be said for ‘that 70’s bloke’, who opens the door to a world of anxiety and unease. Lee’s appearance is fleeting but welcome, and like me you’ll be yelling at the TV screen “Its him, it’s him I tell you!” Despite the fact that he’s almost ninety and struggles to even stand these days. It’s not really a spoiler to say that he didn’t do it, and even the thought of Lee stalking someone for ninety minutes - in and out of tiny hiding places - is bordering on the insane, but Lee’s standout performance will have you believing all the same. Lee oozes charisma and menace, unlike Morgan, who struggles to escape the Clooney vibe he has going for himself these days. It’s all too sudden a shift in tone, and the final act suffers immensely as a result.
A series of nasty plot developments keep things moving in the right direction, but a successful cat and mouse finale only works if you have believable characters, inspired bloodshed, and/or bucket loads of tension. Max turns into a cartoon villain and the final third becomes predictably mundane, occasionally efficient yet repeatedly unspectacular. A little too comfortable within its chosen genre, The Resident is neither subtle enough to satisfy nor extreme enough to stand up to repeat viewing. Swank impresses as always, but by the time the film switches gear you’ll be going through the same old tried and tested motions.
Antti Jokinen’s debut fails to raise the roof. Morgan is miscast as the bad guy of the piece, and a lack of wit, tension and gore will likely offend the horror loving masses. Hammer fans will commend the casting of Lee, but when all is said and done, even he can’t prevent The Resident from feeling like a vacant plot in a baron movie wasteland.