Thursday, 2 January 2014

The Resident (2011)

BBC2 gave us one more festive Hammer horror last night in the shape of the 2011 movie The Resident

The reborn Hammer studios may have struck gold with The Woman In Black, a film that returned them to the genre of period horror rather well, but they totally failed to hit the target with anther genre they once did so well, namely the psychological woman-in-peril chiller.

Juliet, an ER doctor played by Hilary Swank, finds what she thinks is the perfect apartment to start her new life after her marriage breakdown. It has spacious rooms, a spectacular view and a handy, handsome landlord. 

But there are secrets behind every wall and terror in every room when Juliet gets the unnerving feeling that she is not alone.

Former music video director Antti J Jokinen turns in a glossy enough product and the Brooklyn setting gives a certain 'newness' and distinctive flavour to the Hammer proceedings, but none of this can disguise the fact that the film is essentially a listless, empty affair. It's not that it's a bad film - hell, it's not Stalker, former pop star and sofa salesman Martin Kemp's remake of Expose/The House On Straw Hill - and it's suitable enough to pass the time before BBC2 shut down last night/this morning, but it is a bit inconsequential. Indeed it's so forgettable that it took me a few minutes to realise I'd actually already seen it when it first came out some two years ago.

The main flaw inherent in the production I think is that the reveal occurs way too early in the narrative. This means that the perfectly fine actors assembled -  Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Christopher Lee - have little to do for the remainder of the film except go through the motions; Lee especially, who truth be told has little to do in it anyway. It seems his casting is solely to offer a nod back to Hammer's heyday and to reassure fans that whilst this outing may be in America, they haven't forgotten their roots. Meanwhile the audience has little reason to even continue watching it other than to pass the time.

It's perhaps unsurprising to see that this flopped anyway; much has changed in the genre since Hammer made Fear In The Night or Straight On Till Morning and those changing tastes of an audience seeking bolder, less intelligent chills has been provided by more and more outre American slashers. But if you ask me, I'd recommend Straight On Till Morning over this (or other modern day examples of the genre)  in a heartbeat, because that still has the power to shock, unlike this film.

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