Sunday, February 27, 2011

The Resident (2011)

Directed by Antti Jokinen
Starring Hillary Swank, Jeffery Dean Morgan, Christopher Lee
Rated R
UK/USA


"This time you get to be awake."

Hillary Swank won two Academy Awards. I don't know that much about how Hollywood works, but wouldn't that somehow make you rich enough so that you wouldn't have to star in schlocky horror flicks? Well, to be fair, The Resident is high-class schlock, so I guess that makes it alright. Directed by a Finnish music-video guru for the recently revamped Hammer, it's a tawdry tale about a compulsive masturbator who builds a labyrinth of hidden walls in the New York apartment building he manages and drills peepholes into people's apartments. Then he rents out to pretty ladies so that he can spy on them. It's a pretty sweet set-up for a lonely guy, really.

Of course, this particularly lonely guy, Max, is portrayed by Jeffery Dean Morgan, AKA the Comedian from Watchmen, which seems like very strange casting to me. I mean, look at that fuckin' guy. If he's got to hide in the walls for sexual gratification, where  does that leave the rest of us? Why not get an actual sniveling creep for the role, like...I dunno, Eddie Deezen or Booger from Revenge of the Nerds? Or even the entire cast of Revenge of the Nerds. We could turn this fucker into a teen sex comedy. But I digress.


Swank stars as Juliet, an uptight emergency room surgeon who just broke up with her boyfriend Jack (Lee Pace, Pushing Daisies) for cheating on her. Since he's sullied their love nest, she's forced to find a new place to live, so she answers an ad suspiciously taped to a bulletin board at work for a cheap ($3800 a month is cheap? New York is fucking crazy) apartment in an old, stately building. Said building is run by Max (Dean Morgan) and his ancient grandpa August (Christopher Lee, in his first Hammer flick since '79's To the Devil a Daughter). She likes it and Max likes her, so she takes it and moves in.


Almost immediately, Juliet starts to get creeped out by all the weird noises she hears at night. Luckily she's distracted by her handsome and helpful landlord, and the two start to develop a relationship. Sadly for Max, she's not over Jack yet, as evidenced by a hilariously overwritten scene where Max tries to make out with her and she says "I can't, I only know Jack's lips!" Haha, what? Anyway, that bums Max out, but luckily, he's still able to peep at her through all the holes he's drilled into the walls, so pretty much every night he just stares at her taking baths and rubbing lotion on her belly while he quietly masturbates and weeps in the secret hallway behind her place.


By the way, for a film that's clearly going for a tasteful display, there's a ton of Swank-in-her-skivvies shots, and at least two shower/bathtub scenes. They're shot through a plastic curtain, but I'm gonna say that still counts.


Also, while we're on the subject of gratuitous female objectification, if you're still on the hot-or-not fence regarding Hillary, this movie will only confuse you further. In the multitude of Swank jogging shots - she goes for like 20 runs in this movie - she looks very much like a sorta homely teenage boy.


And then there's a bunch of other shots where she's drop-dead gorgeous. What the hell, Hillary Swank? What kind of boner-confusing alchemy is this?


Anyway, back to business. Juliet starts to suspect something weird is afoot, especially when she keeps getting up late for work every morning. This probably has something to do with the fact that Max has been using crazy grandpa's knock-out meds to dose Juliet every night so that he can bang her in her sleep.


She gets a bunch of cameras rigged up so she can find out what's going on. Once she sees the horrifying evidence, things get crazy.


She and Max battle it out with power tools and knives and bloody mayhem ensues.


I don't think I've ever watched a Hillary Swank movie before. She's mostly into drama, and I'm mostly into laffs and boobs. And while The Resident will not compel me to watch any of her boring highbrow films, I will say I thought she was great in this. So was Dean Morgan, even though, as mentioned, he's way too good-looking for the role. I can see, however why accomplished actors were cast for this - the first hour is just a very slow-boil, and with the usual blonde Hollywood lame-brains, it would have been a fairly excruciating experience. And you are rewarded for your patience with the climactic orgy of blood and screaming. The Resident is no genre classic, but it is a tight and well-crafted stalker flick, and very much in step with the sort of stuff Hammer did in the 70's, minus the accents and wigs and whatnots. Good stuff.



- Ken McIntyre

2 comments:

  1. "I mean, look at that fuckin' guy. If he's got to hide in the walls for sexual gratification, where does that leave the rest of us?" Naw, Ken, it doesn't work that way. Look at Charlie Sheen. He's a good looking guy, and he pays for hookers and porn stars with cash, booze, and coke. And everyone points out how handsome Ted Bundy was. But he abducted women. When a guy peeps through walls, it's not a reflection that he can't get women -- it's a sign that he enjoys the transgression of boundaries.

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