Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Sheila Ivy Traister
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The Resident (2011)
1st Jul 11
A newly single surgeon moves into a grand old New York apartment and becomes the object of obsession for the landlord.
The Resident is a throwback to the ancient 1990’s, when the “insert-here from hell” was big business. An everyman/woman/couple hurled into a cat and mouse game by an outwardly normal roommate/secretary/janitor/jockie who is in fact a homicidal obsessive really was all you needed for modest box office returns. It was a simpler time that Finnish director Antti Jokinen seems keen to take us back to and while The Resident falls quite a bit short of The Hand That Rocks The Cradle, Single White Female and even Pacific Heights, it isn’t without entertainment value. Even if it is mostly unintentional.
Starting out like a straight up New York romance with professionally pretty Juliet (two time Oscar winner and part time mainstream trash fetishist, Swank) and devastatingly handsome Max (devastatingly handsome Morgan) playing cute and coy. She’s a doctor going through a major breakup and he’s the devastatingly handsome and lonesome landlord of her new abode. The stage is set for some across the hall complications, but wouldn’t ya know it; 30 mins in and we find out he’s a highly unstable devastatingly handsome stalker spying on her from meticulously placed peep holes. He’s a good 20 years late but the Landlord from Hell has finally made his appearance, home invasion fans.
The second act shift into a full blown thriller is fumbled but interesting as we’re shown in flashback the events of their almost courtship from Max’s freaky deeky point of view. But whereas in the first half hour Morgan is a believably loveable and charmingly shy character, for the remainder he plays it so ridiculously sinister he’s only missing a curly moustache. This does allow for some good laughs such as the orgasmic look on his face whilst using Swanks toothbrush and the scene where she calls him a “friend” and it looks like he’s taken a garden gnome to the nuts. Sadly these comedic interludes are too few to save the film from dullsville.
Swank does alright with a bland character but everything bar Morgan’s amusing mugging is by numbers. It’s all slickly shot and productions values are high but there’s a serious lack of tension and passion, which is shocking considering how icky the set up is. Jokinen does manage to make us squirm a few times in scenes of Morgan fondling a drugged Swank, but of course these moments sit uneasily with the more fun panto villain bits. Ultimately the film fails to be either a fully satisfying thriller or a fully satisfying bad movie.
It’s a good deal more sleazy than one might expect with Jokinen jumping on the opportunity to play the voyeur since the plot sort of justifies it. The camera follows Swank learily around her massive apartment as she gets naked, looks sad, gets naked, drinks wine, gets naked and masturbates in a cloudy 90’s soft core bath. On top of Hilary’s wank, Morgan also gets in on yanktics but this time fully clothed in the bath with added rousing danger music blaring on the soundtrack. Another giggle worthy highlight.
It’s very brave of Swank to go so all out with the nudity and self pleasure at this point in her career (especially for a film as trashy as this) but unfortunately her efforts are wasted on an uninspired tasteless flick. She does look really rather beautiful here though it must be said.
The most surprising thing about The Resident is that comes from the once again operational Hammer, as it’s about as far from the gothic chills of old as possible. Hammer didn’t make any films in 90s and therefore no production qualifies as an influence on The Resident. The only real nod to the studios legacy is the occasional presence of horrors greatest living legend Christopher Lee. Lees extended cameo proves pointless and the great man is sadly given the sole task of poking his head out a door from time to time and looking old.
If The Resident was to come on tv some slow night it might just pass an undemanding hour and a half. The pacing is steady if hardly snappy but definitely not slow. It’s a set up familiar enough to please the sleepy, but if you’ve got a 90’s stalker itch that needs scratching, be assured there’re many better examples of the sub genre out there. Most of them made in the 90’s.