Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (March 28, 2011)
It always seems odd to me that reasonably big stars show up in movies that go direct to video, but it happens with moderate frequency. Hilary Swank suffers this fate via the 2011 horror flick The Resident.
After NYC ER doctor Juliet Devereau (Swank) separates from her husband, she needs to find a new place to live. She struggles to locate an affordable place and thinks she’s struck gold when she finds a gorgeous loft in Brooklyn. It’s relatively cheap – and comes complete with a handy, handsome landlord named Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan).
She finds out there’s a catch: she has a stalker. Someone takes too intense an interest in Juliet, so she has to deal with creepy aspects of her new living arrangements – and more, as the situation escalates along the way.
While some films would like to keep the identity of Juliet’s stalker a secret for quite a while, Resident doesn’t really bother with obfuscation. Oh, it briefly sets up some red herrings, but these are half-hearted attempts at suspense. The movie reveals the stalker only about one-third of the way into the story, which means it disposes with “who is it?” tension and attempts drama via other methods.
Other ineffective methods, unfortunately, as Resident moves slowly and doesn’t provide a particularly engaging journey. Much of the running time simply shows the stalker’s stalking. (Yeah, the movie makes it obvious who’s after Juliet – heck, the friggin’ artwork tips us off – but I’d rather not divulge the “secret” here.) The obsessive sulks around Juliet’s apartment in a variety of ways – he hides under her bed, he pleasures himself in her tub, he uses her toothbrush, etc.
All of which depict what we already know: he’s super-focused on Juliet and more than a little nuts. I guess the filmmakers thought these sequences would depict the extreme nature of his fascination, and they do, I suppose.
However, they tend to feel more like filler than anything else. Resident barely hits the 90-minute mark, so the presence of any flab becomes more evident than it would in a longer movie. Rather than convey mood, the endless scenes of the stalker just make a tedious movie even less interesting.
That’s a shame, as Resident had some potential. It certainly boasts a good cast, and the theme could’ve induced some heebie-jeebies. I think that’d be true especially for women – they’re obviously a lot more vulnerable to threats like this – but I believe anyone could identify with the risks involved in apartment living. Landlords/superintendents have a lot of access to our lives; it only takes one bad apple to create problems. Though I suspect cases like the one depicted here are rare on the side of non-existent, it’s a scenario that could hit close to home.
If only the filmmakers did anything with it. By the time the movie devolves into the inevitable action, it’s too little, too late – a whole lot too little, really. It pursues the standard horror movie clichés and does nothing with them. We don’t feel scared or anxious at any point because we just don’t care; the preceding moments lost us, so the weak attempts at action fall flat.
All of which leaves The Resident as a surprisingly dull thriller. It lacks creativity or originality, and it fails to explore its themes/threads in a satisfying manner. All of that ends up as a slow, draggy 91 minutes of movie.