As you may have seen from our recent review of Wake Wood, Hammer – the self titled House of Horror – is back making the movies that made its name. Projects such as Wake Wood and the upcoming The Woman in Black all hark back in style and storyline to the great gothic tradition of Hammer which celebrated the occult and the supernatural.
The Resident proves however that Hammer is not all about vampires, ghosts and pagan rituals giving the audience a stylish slice of contemporary horror. It creeps and crawls under your skin by showing us a very real story of stalking which is guaranteed to make you check under the bed next time your all alone at home.
The Resident tells the tale of Dr. Juliet Devereau (played with aplomb by Hilary Swank), a newly single surgeon who is desperate for a new apartment in New York after splitting from her long term boyfriend. After a day of searching to find only derelict shells and crack dens all out of her price range, she suddenly stumbles on an apartment in a period building which seems almost too perfect to be true.
Owned by handsome landlord Max (Watchman and Loser’s star Jeffrey Dean Morgan) it is beautiful building with huge rooms, low rent and a stunning view and the only other tenant is Max’s frail granddad August (living legend Christopher Lee).
Juliet doesn’t hesitate and moves in straight away, ready to start her new life in a new home perhaps with the possibility of a new romance between her and Max. All is not as its seems though and as shadows dart across the rooms and noises that can’t be explained wake her up at night, Juliet tries to ignore her instincts that something is wrong.
She feels as if she is not alone and that is because she isn’t. Someone is watching her sleep, someone is watching her get dressed, someone is watching her all the time and soon that someone will realise that just watching is not enough.
Written and directed by the relatively unknown Antti Jokinen, a Finish native who directed the opening section of the 2007 Eurovision Song Contest after the heavy metal monster suited Lordi won it for Finland the year before, The Resident is slick and well made. Jokinen succeeds in creating tension and terror throughout, slowly building up the atmosphere and keeping the characters and the audience on edge.
Although the set up is obvious from the start a clever plot device 30 minutes in plays with the audiences expectations and turns this traditional thriller on its head for the second act which gives us a stalkers eye view returning for a full on climax in the final section which delivers a truly disturbing revelation and a violent confrontation which is exciting if slightly silly.
What really makes the movie is the excellent cast with Swank crafting a likable everywoman out of Juliet, who stumbles into a scary situation innocently in the same way any woman could. Jeffrey Dean Morgan an underrated actor proves yet again he can turn his hand to any genre and Christopher Lee is as disconcerting as ever if sadly underused in his return to the Hammer franchise after a 34 year absence.
The Resident is a well directed stalker thriller with a quality cast which offers an interesting twist on the genre. Solid horror with some scary scenes made more unsettling by what we don’t see, The Resident is one movie you defiantly don’t want to watch alone especially if you just moved into a new flat.