BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Resident
Hammer Films brings a new wannabe thriller straight to home video...
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While Hillary Swank may best be known for her breakout award-winning roles in 1999's Boys Don't Cry and 2004's Million Dollar Baby, her recent films have been decent at best. In fact, it seems Swank has sadly gone the way of many "has beens" and is now working for a paycheck which, while that's not all bad and completely understandable, seems a bit premature for an actress who, only 6 short years ago, was at the height of Hollywood popularity.
I personally think Swank is a much better actress than that and should be picking her roles more carefully. And, upon examination, her recent role in Hammer Film's The Resident, while not all bad, proves she's fallen a long ways over the last half decade.
Swank plays Dr. Juliet Dermer, a good-looking, recently separated doctor looking for new digs in New York City. After finding an apartment to rent that's not only ideally located but also reasonably priced (at $3,800/ month! WOW!), Juliet meets the landlord and owner, Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). Good-looking though a bit shy, Max immediately makes Juliet feel welcome, appreciated and even comfortable, offering his company as often as possible. However, it's not until Max's true intentions become clear that things start getting a bit creepy and Juliet begins to realize how poor a choice she's made in moving into Max's building.
While there are some impressive and tense moments (a couple of which include star Christopher Lee as Max's grandfather), The Resident seems more laughable than frigthening. In fact, the moments which could have been truly scary sadly follow scenes which are almost too terrible or laughable to tolerate. Since when did a cat chasing a mouse become so frightening? I'm not sure, but I do know the one saving grace is the tight and well-shot cinematography by Guillermo Navarro, who provides an interesting use of light and dark.
While the beginning scenes between Swank and Morgan are well staged and written, following a particularly odd "rewind" scene in the middle of the film in which we are provided a look back at the entire movie from a different perspective, we begin to realize how The Resident, like Morgan's character, has been manipulative and awkward the entire time. Unfortunately, everything that follows this scene suddenly seems more humorous than scary as we watch as both of the main characters take on persona which are shallow and one-dimensional.
While at times The Resident may seem a solid attempt at a thriller, it unfortunately comes across as forced at best and repetitive at worst. If you watch The Resident and feel as if you've seen it before, it's because you probably have. The story is your typical "girl meets boy, boy likes girl, boy wants to love and then kill girl" story with your typical thriller/chiller characters: "professional woman who wants a man," "shy man who needs a woman" and "old man who's gonna die." Odd, but true.
The blu-ray disc includes a quality 1080p video transfer from its original 35mm. Thanks to the aforementioned beautiful use of light and dark (thanks to the cinematography) and colors which are sharp and tight, The Resident is impressive when it comes to its look. Likewise, the DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track is well designed, providing plenty of sound effects and moments of intensity. It's unfortunate the action on the screen isn't as good.
As for special features, The Resident includes the theatrical trailer and nothing more.
Overall, The Resident tries to be a number of things it's not: frightening, thrilling, and entertaining. While The Resident includes little to get excited about, it does include some impressive use of color, light and dark as well as a cast which should be more impressive on screen. If you're a fan of Morgan or Swank, you may want to check it out; otherwise, most movie fans will find this one unimpressive. Unfortunately, The Resident is no where near as impressive as Hammer Film's latest hit, Let Me In, which was a masterpiece of modern horror.
The Resident is rated R for violence, language and brief sexuality/nudity and is available now wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
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Jess C. Horsley