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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

DVD Review: THE RESIDENT (2011)

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THE RESIDENT
Directed by:  Antti Jokinen
Distributed by:  Image Entertainment

I just watched...no, experienced the latest Hammer Films production of THE RESIDENT.  This is Hammer's follow up to last years, LET ME IN, and this is two "home runs" in a row.   While it will be hard to top the genius that was LET ME IN, this latest film from Hammer Films is a worthy followup, and one I enjoyed almost just as much.  NOTE:  Slight Spoiler Alert.  If you want to go into this film knowing nothing, please do not read this review until after you have seen the film.  Although, nothing in the review below tells you anything that you don't find out too early in the film. Here is the films synopsis from the Image Entertainment website:

Juliet (Academy Award-winner Hilary Swank, Million Dollar Baby), a beautiful doctor, has found the perfect New York apartment to start a new life after separating from her husband. It's got spacious rooms, a spectacular view, and a handy, handsome landlord. But there are secrets behind every wall and terror in every room as Juliet gets the unnerving feeling that she is not alone. She is being watched. She is being stalked. And no one is safe when she discovers the relentless horror on her doorstep. But how do you stop an evil that you can't see...until it's too late? Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Grey's Anatomy) and screen legend Christopher Lee (The Lord of the Rings) costar in this pulse-pounding shocker from famed horror studio Hammer Films (Let Me In).
While there are many great aspects of this film, I have to start with the acting.  I have never been a huge fan of Hilary Swank, but after seeing her in this film, that opinion has changed.  Swank did an outstanding job playing a woman who was wronged by her husband.  She comes across at first as emotionally weak and vulnerable, yet she does a remarkable job of going from victim to a strong woman who stands her ground and stands up for herself.
 
Jeffrey Dean Morgan probably gives the best performance overall. He plays the stalker of Swanks character in the film, who watches her through peepholes in her walls and also from within her apartment at times! While at first very charming and polite, he does a complete 180 and plays one of the most menacing, creepy characters ever caught on film. While this might be somewhat of a spoiler, you find this out pretty early in the film, so it's not like a surprise ending that is being ruined. Just look at the DVD cover and you can tell who the "bad guy" is. 
 
Also worth noting is the amazing Christopher Lee.  While he has a very small role in the film, with little screen time, he manages to set a very eerie vibe for the film.  Christopher Lee seems to get better with age and is in a time in his life where he is at his most creepy and sinister.  If you want to make your Horror movie better, just hire this man.  He should be in every scary movie in my opinion!
 
While the acting was superb, everything else about this film is wonderful as well.  The music is great, setting a very creepy tone. Also worth noting is the use of light and shadows.  When Swank's character hears things in her apartment, the camera will scan the room and sometimes you will catch a glimpse of a shadow of the person watching her, but you never see who it is at first.  Later we find that it was Morgan's character Max, the building's owner.  He hides in her apartment, sometimes slipping a sleeping agent into her drinks, and then watches her as she sleeps.  The thought of someone watching you from just inches away as you sleep is a very scary thought to me.  
 
While all the characters are great, the apartment building is almost a character in itself.  It is a very old building with lots of hidden rooms and access ways to all the rooms, used by Max to get from room to room and sneak into the apartments.   The chase through this hidden inner hallway is a great scene, with an ending you won't want to miss!
 
Overall, this is one of the better movies I have seen in a while.  While it is more thriller/suspense than actual Horror, it is still a very scary, creepy film that I would highly recommend to any Horror fan.  THE RESIDENT was released today, 3/29, so check your local stores or click the link below to purchase!
 
 
 CLICK HERE to watch the trailer
 CLICK HERE to purchase the DVD

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