The Resident (Antti Jokinen, 2011)
I saw a number of articles at the close of 2011 that were strident—perhaps I should say virulent—in choosing The Resident as the single worst horror film of 2011. Strong words indeed, especially in a year that saw the release of such gems as Baby Shower, Red State, The Inheritance, The Human Centipede 2, A Haunting in Salem… I could go on naming worse horror films from 2011 for the entirely of this review. Which, I hasten to add, does not mean The Resident is a GOOD movie—it’s just not as terrible as some folks would have you believe.
Jokinen, a TV and documentary director working on his first feature, gives us the story of Juliet Devereaux (Million Dollar Baby‘s Hilary Swank), a doctor currently on the outs with her boyfriend and looking for a cheap place to live while she completes her residency. She finds what seems to be the perfect apartment (and let’s be real here, that’s not an apartment, that’s a damn duplex) in a house owned and maintained by hunky Max (Watchmen‘s Jeffrey Dean Morgan). The two seem as if they might be getting off on the right foot, but when the ex re-enters the picture, Max ramps up the woo he’s pitching in, shall we say, not the most up-front of ways…
I guess I can kind of understand the venom; this was supposed to be Hammer Films’ big comeback in the horror genre, and to say the least, it isn’t. Jokinen was probably not the right director for this, first of all; his lush camerawork would have felt much more at home in a costume drama than a claustrophobic horror film. (The disastrous 1999 The Haunting remake had this same problem: if you spend more time admiring the architecture than paying attention to the plot…) Morgan did make a solid bad guy—in fact, the entire cast did as good a job as they could with substandard material, and I only touched the tip of the casting iceberg here (Aunjanue Ellis, Christopher Lee [in his first Hammer film in thirty-five years], Nana Visitor, and Michael Badalucco all make appearances)—but that phrase can be qualified with “as long as the script stayed plausible”, which died out around two-thirds of the way through the movie. And, in the end, the whole thing felt like a weird, not-quite-ripoff of the 1978 sexy-day-real-estate movie The Sentinel, albeit without the Satanic angle.
So, yeah, not the worst horror film of 2011… but it could have been so much better than it actually is. **