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Blu-ray Review: The Resident (2011)

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Let’s start by saying that I love to see Hammer making a comeback. It’s only been over the past decade or so that I have really discovered them for myself, but it is easy to see why they have such a lasting and important legacy in the horror world. They put indelible marks on some of the greatest movie monsters ever with movies like The Mummy and Curse of Dracula while also carving other ground with movies like Captain Cronos, Vampire Hunter and The Legend of the 7 Golden Vampires. In any case, welcome back, Hammer! One of their first releases upon their return is The Resident, a domestic thriller starring Oscar-winner Hilary Swank.

Having watched The Resident, I cannot say this felt much like a Hammer film. It was just too American, not to mention its Finnish director. The only thing that really points to Hammer’s legacy is the presence of Christopher Lee, although it is just a small role. Oh, I guess you could also include its desire to build tension out of its atmosphere. But seriously, if you did not know beforehand that this was a Hammer production, you never would have guessed it. I may not be terribly well versed in Hammer history, but what I have seen leads me to look for certain things and this just fails to deliver on them. Perhaps I am expecting too much from a studio, but Hammer is one of those studios with a distinctive style in their productions. Perhaps Hammer should not try to come back, or at the very least we should not expect them to be like they were.

The Resident centers on Juliet (Hilary Swank), an ER doctor in New York City, She has just gotten out of a troublesome relationship and is looking for an apartment of her own. This leads her to an old building in the process of being renovated by the owner, Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan). He offers her a spacious apartment with a great view for the low, low price of $3800 a month. I know, I balked at that too. Seems expensive even for a doctor (Juliet is an ER doc). Anyway, she jumps on the place and moves right in.

Juliet meets Max’s infirmed grandfather, August (Christopher Lee), and begins to have some feelings for Max. They explore the possibility a bit, but then things cool as she looks to work things out with her ex (Lee Pace). This sets Max off and we watch him as he spies on her from a crawlspace around the apartment. Peepholes, two-way mirrors, and secret doors allow him access to her life and most intimate moments. The longer the movie goes, the more he watches and the closer Juliet gets to discovery.

Sadly, that is about all there is. He watches and gets angry; she feels watched and gets scared. It all leads to a violent showdown between the two. Unfortunately, I just did not care about anything that happens. Christopher Lee is criminally underused, any moment of interest is quickly sped past. For example, there is more between Max and August than meets the eye, we just never get to see it. Anything else about Max would have been welcome, we never get any insight into his psychology. Then there is Juliet, can you get any more bland? Ugh.

Antti Jokinen does a have a good eye. There are some scenes, especially early on that play up Max’s voyeuristic tendencies and feed Juliet’s feelings of paranoia. Still, everything just drags along until its inevitable conclusion.

Audio/Video. The movie is presented in its original 2.35:1 aspect ratio. It looks good enough. Detail is solid throughout, blacks are black and there is a lot of black. The movie is rather drab looking with plenty of brown tones. Close-ups show off nice detail and I do not detect any artifacting or halos. It is well mastered, just drab (due to the look of the movie). Audio is decent; it is a quiet movie with lots of dialogue, always clear with good use of surrounds for atmospherics. While not being the best soundtrack, this one threatens to involve me more than the movie as a whole. Surrounds bring out some fine atmospherics with city noise and creaky sounds of the old building still settling; it all works towards increasing the feeling of paranoia that they so want you to have. It’s too bad the movie isn’t any better.

Extras. The lone extra is the original trailer.

Bottomline. Boring movie, uninteresting characters, drab to look at. There are a couple of nice shots, but this is not a movie I suspect I will be visiting all that often.

Not Recommended.

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