Friday, 11 March 2011



Look, it's a plodding, pedestrian film, you're getting a plodding, pedestrian spoiler warning. Seems only fair. If the makers can't shoehorn in the merest smidgen of originality, innovation or surprise, I don't see why I should make the effort to come up with a neat turn of phrase in the spoiler warning. I made the effort to slog through the movie and that's enough, frankly. It's like they've gone through a checklist of psycho slasher conventions and dutifully, mechanically ticked them off as they went, and the result is - well, plodding and pedestrian. And despite running for just 91 minutes, boy does it feel long.

The Resident is Hilary Swank (who also co-executive produced), a New York ER nurse who moves into a convenient and spacious apartment at a suspiciously low rent from apparently affable landlord Jeffrey Dean Morgan who isn't, initially, in the least bit creepy and the film's first and only mini-frisson comes from the appearance of Sir Christopher Lee as his grandfather. Since she's chucked her cheating boyfriend, the pair begin a tenuous, tentative friendship - but for Morgan, is there more to it? Have either or both misread the signals? It's not long before Morgan is recharacterised as a deranged stalker with Swank on his mind (and you can take her somewhat unfortunate surname as an indicator of exactly what is on his mind). But what happens when her errant ex (Lee Pace) seeks a reconciliation?

Ignore the Hammer logo at the start, because it's a Hammer film in all but name and even the presence of one of that studio's biggest names (sadly, the legendary Lee is criminally underused with only a few appearances) can't bridge the infinite chasms between British Golden Age Hammer and this entirely generic American slasher pic which frankly belongs on the DVD premiere racks. Once Morgan's character has been reduced from prospective romantic lead to embittered nutter and then to drooling pervert, the movie has nowhere else to go, with the drug-induced sexual assaults feeling distinctly icky.

Inevitably it all comes to a head with the 4,750th use of the traditional Final Girl climax where she and the maniac go one-on-one through the secret passages and crawlspaces. I like Hilary Swank but she's done a lot better than this, even when appearing in dumb genre fodder such as The Reaping or even dumber studio blockbusters like The Core. And it's always good to see Sir Christopher Lee in pretty much anything. But The Resident is dull, predictable (lots of he's-behind-you moments, and he always is) and has no surprises up its sleeve. Maybe the upcoming Wake Wood can restore the Hammer name; if not, maybe they should simply change the company name. Hammer or not, it's a poor piece of work.


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