Hammer has risen from the grave. A group of investors have resurrected the film brand and intend to honor the tradition of the once-defunct horror giant. President Simon Oakes is a self-proclaimed fan since he was a kid. He has no interest in trying to fit Hammer into the new mold of torture porn or slashers. He acknowledges that there is plenty of room for those kinds of films in the horror genre. He hopes to bring back more than just the Hammer name. He intends to bring back the gothic spirit that was Hammer Films. Let Me In appears to have been a sincere effort in that direction. But the look and feel of that film along with the rich Hammer legacy have set the bar incredibly high. The last thing I expected from all of this was a direct-to-video standard stalker film called The Resident.
Juliet (Swank) has just come from a bad breakup. She caught her ex sleeping with her friend. Now she’s trying to set off on her own. She’s an ER doctor at Brooklyn Hospital and is looking for an affordable apartment in the area. She gets a call from Max (Morgan) who owns a nice vintage building with a vacant apartment he’s fixing up. The place is huge with a spectacular view and is a “reasonable” $3800 a month. She takes the apartment and finds herself somewhat charmed by Max in the process. She finds herself a little creeped out by his grandfather August (Lee). This leads her to send Max mixed signals. She kisses him but pulls back. Later she invites him to her bed but pulls back again. Apparently, she’s still in love with Jack (Pace), who is trying to win her back. Max doesn’t take rejection very well and has a series of secret passages into her apartment and a large assortment of peepholes throughout. Juliet finds herself feeling uncomfortable in the apartment but just can’t quite put her finger on it, which is more than we can say for Max who has no trouble laying his fingers on her. The last 20 minutes of the film is a typical run-and-chase piece with very predictable results. There aren’t any twists or surprises to be found here at all.
I don’t expect anything groundbreaking here, and I’m happy to watch a simple stalker film if it is compelling enough. The performances here are certainly pretty good, for the most part. Hilary Swank manages to dampen her performance down a bit, and she really is quite convincing as the paranoid woman just getting out on her own. Jeffrey Dean Morgan has been great in both Supernatural and Grey’s Anatomy over the years. He’s effectively creepy here and gives you an interesting enough bad guy to make this an interesting set-up. But the problem isn’t with the cast. Hey, they have Christopher Lee, even if it isn’t much more than an extended cameo. The problem here is with a ludicrous script.
Writer Robert Orr hasn’t done much yet in his career. He wrote the third Underworld film, which is most notable for not having Kate Beckinsale. His inexperience shows pretty obviously here. The film just isn’t believable at all. I’m willing to buy coincidence and suspend my belief, but Orr is asking me to have a full on frontal lobotomy in order to buy into the film’s logic. Max spends a lot of time inside the apartment stalking Juliet. There are just too many incidences where he’s just around the corner in a room or under her bed and she doesn’t know he’s there. And Juliet doesn’t get a bad feeling when he’s inches away. It’s windows slamming suddenly or a distant crash that leaves her feeling so insecure she buys a sophisticated video and computer system that Max never knows is there. Good thing he just so happened to be away from his post when all of that was going on. He also always misses the huge computer screen that’s left on that alerts one to the unviewed video footage in big block letters. I don’t mind a few “near misses” in a film like this. It can build up suspense. This one gets to the point of “you’ve got to be kidding”. It’s a shame really. The performances are solid, and Antti Jokinen shows real promise in this, his first full length feature. Unfortunately, it’s a huge swing and a miss for the new Hammer. Skip this one, and let’s see what they come up with next.
The Resident is presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. The 1080p image is arrived at with an AVC MPEG-4 codec at an average 28 mbps. The film is well shot and looks pretty good in this high-definition image presentation. Colors are reference. Jokinen uses excellent shades of light to build a nice atmosphere that might have almost made up for the bad script. Black levels are deep and inky with plenty of shadow detail.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 is just atmospheric. Everything is flawlessly blended to give you the best immersive experience this kind of film offers. The surrounds are not terribly aggressive, but they shine in their subtleness. Dialog comes through just great. The score never intrudes but can become dynamic when it needs to. It also knows when to get completely out of the way.
A couple of things young women should think about if they’re looking for a new apartment, particularly if they plan on living alone. Make sure the subway doesn’t run directly under the building. This has the nasty habit of making your wine glasses fall down and break. You might want to make sure there aren’t any hidden entrances or peepholes in strategic places. Oh, and if you find out that Dracula lives in the building, you might want to break the lease. Forget the security deposit. Run. And if you see any perspective new tenants on your way out, “Tell them they have a sick one coming up”.