Hammer Films' movie The Resident puts the "psycho" in psychological thriller. Here's our review of the Blu-ray from Image Entertainment, in stores now. Some plot spoilers follow!
SPECIAL FEATURES: C-
OVERALL GRADE: B+
ASPECT RATIO: 2.35:1 enhanced for widescreen TVs
RUNNING TIME: 91 minutes
SPECIAL FEATURES: Trailer
SUBTITLES: English for the hearing impaired, Spanish
This psychological thriller from the famed Hammer Films (the studio responsible for the classic horror films of the 1960s and 1970s, as well as the recent Let Me In) boasts an impressible cast. Oscar winner Hilary Swank (who also serves as executive producer) plays Juliet, a New York doctor looking for a new apartment, and finds it in a building owned by Jeffrey Dean Morgan's Max, who lives there with his elderly uncle Max (Christopher Lee).
Juliet can't belive the deal she is getting on her incredible apartment, and eventually she sees why. Her landlords are not all that they appear to be, and her suspicions that she is being watched are confirmed.
Although she is a good actress, I can't say I'm a huge fan of Hilary Swank in general. I do like her here, however. As Juliet, she plays the right balance of sensitivity and smarts. In thrillers where the lead character is being deceived by someone close to them, the lead character tends to be a bit clueless, sometimes to the point of frustrating the viewer. In this case, Juliet knows something is wrong, and her search for answers eventually brings out the truth. The viewer, in turn, is able to sympathize with her plight and is emotionally invested in her fate when the villain is exposed.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan is at first likable, but then turns in his creepy best here. Too creepy, to be honest; his sexually frustrated character finally decides to act out on his affections for Juliet, and does things we don't really need to see done on screen. By the third act, when he finally goes over the edge, you've totally bought into his performance.
With this being Christopher Lee's return to Hammer Films, I was expecting more from his character, but he is sorely underused here. He does have one good scene with Morgan, but that's about it. His unrealized potential is indicative of the film as a whole. While the movie has some great moments, overall, the sum is less than the parts.
The movie starts slowly and allows the characters to develop, but a sluggish second act kills the tension and momentum. We get plenty of Morgan doing his best Norman Bates by spying on Swank's Juliet, but he flips the "psycho" switch far too late in the film. While the ending was enjoyable, it only highlights how the rest of the film failed to realize its potential.
VIDEO AND SOUND
Image Entertainment, the studio releasing the Blu-ray, knows how to do a high-definition transfer. The opening of the film, showing scenes of New York City, is striking in its clarity. Colors are deep and vivid, and both the dark interior of Juliet's apartment and the bright exteriors of the city present equal sharpness. On my 46 inch HDTV, the 2.35:1 image is flawless.
Sound is DTS-HD, and while it won't wear out your speakers like some summer blockbusters do, it connects a punch when it needs to. When the film delivers a scare, the sound delivers a resounding, bassy thud. Even though I could see it coming, the audio still made me flinch.
A trailer is included. That's it.
BUY IT, REDBOX IT, OR NETFLIX IT?
If you're a fan of Hammer Films, chances are you will buy this for your collection. With virtually no special features, however, paying full price almost seems like a waste. It's a better buy on sale or in a few months when it gets discounted. For everyone else, it makes for a good rent for anyone looking for a decent thriller. While it starts slowly, it does pay off in the end.
The Resident is also available on standard DVD. It is available now in stores or online.