It’s hard to see whether this inept and boring thriller is an affectionate throwback to old damsel-in-distress pictures of long ago, or just another conventional, cruelly exploitative piece of Hollywood trash. Actually, although set in Brooklyn, The Resident happens to be a British film made by the newly rebooted horror studio Hammer; and while it’s worth remembering that many of the movies Hammer made were far from high quality products, it’s a shame to see them now producing such cynical, lazy rubbish as this.
Hilary Swank plays an ER doctor who starts renting a creepy new apartment. She spends a lot of time either in the bath, unclothed, walking around in her underwear, rubbing herself with towels, or massaging her body. If you take away the ‘s’ from her last name, you’ll have a general idea of what will be on the minds of many teenage boys while they watch this film. Inevitably, really freaky things begin happening to her, largely because she rejects the advances of her rough-and-ready, though very sensitive, landlord Max, played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan (an actor who is yet to star in a movie that goes beyond mediocre).
Chrisopher Lee (that old Hammer hero), returning to the studio after a 30-year break, is a wasted talent. He appears in three or four 40-second cameos as the landlord’s elderly grandfather. If one was to judge the film by its cover or poster, they’d think he has a substantial supporting role in the film, but in reality he does nothing.
Voyeurs and sadists may have a good time watching this film, particularly when the rape and nail-gun scenes are rolled out in all their nasty glory; but those who appreciate good story-telling and satisfying conclusions will be left feeling deeply unrewarded. Technically it’s very well handled: the lighting is good, the cinematography is rich but spooky, and John Ottman’s score is suitably atmospheric. But narratively speaking, this is bankrupt of anything to get enthusiastic about.
The Resident (2011), directed by Antti Jokinen, is available on DVD and Blu-ray disc from Icon Home Entertainment, certificate 15.