x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

The Resident

A ridiculous plot and weak suspense-building ruin the first outing from Hammer's latest incarnation, in spite of a strong cast in Christopher Lee and Hilary Swank.

Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilary Swank in The Resident.
Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Hilary Swank in The Resident.

The Resident
Director: Antti Jokinen
Starring: Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Christopher Lee

The Resident is the first cinematic release from the newly resurrected Hammer Film Productions, the latest incarnation of the British horror studio which had its heyday in the 1960s and 1970s. Mixing new Hollywood talent with their greatest star, Christopher Lee, the film centres on Juliet (Hilary Swank), a recently single ER doctor who thinks her luck is beginning to come back when she lands a too-good-to-be-true apartment in New York City, with only the shy landlord Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and his grandfather (Christopher Lee) as neighbours. Initially settling in well, she becomes unsettled by her new landlord's growing obsession with her, and soon the dream apartment becomes a prison from which she may never escape. The golden rule of any horror film is surely a legitimate threat to the main character, and in that sense The Resident falls at the first hurdle. The director Jokinen fails to build any suspense, simply creating a monster in Max halfway through, with a preposterous series of flashbacks that are meant to explain everything, but only leave viewers bemused. This stop-start method of story-telling continues with the sub-plot of Juliet's broken relationship, which is not used for any progression of the story, and feels pointless. With the majority of scenes involving Swank hearing things in her apartment, boredom sets in far too early for a film that is only just over 90 minutes long. Swank is familiar with the horror genre, starring in creepy films such as The Reaping and The Gift, but here she is left clueless by a lack of character development or plot progression. Similarly, Morgan has little to work with in Max, a character that is suspicious, certainly, but far from threatening up until the film's limp climax. Lee's presence is presumably just to provide some connection to the past, as it's hard to define even this as a horror, let alone one of the Hammer stable. This poorly directed, slow-paced movie has a certain amount of atmospheric terror early on, but a film that loses credibility as the plot becomes more and more ridiculous. The usually strong actors are adrift without a decent script or story, resulting in a film that doesn't live up to the legendary name of the studio.