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The Resident

Hilary Swank in The Resident

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

FAR from being a taut psychological thriller in the Hitchcock mould, Antti Jokinen’s The Resident plays like more of an example of how to sabotage your own film!

Featuring an interesting set-up that plays well on primal fears (being watched at home) and a strong cast, the film still manages to waste most of its opportunities. It’s not helped by an ill-judged marketing campaign that also gives away many of its secrets.

Hilary Swank stars as ER surgeon Dr Juliet Devereau who, still reeling from her boyfriend’s betrayal, moves into a luxurious but low-rent Brooklyn apartment determined to start a new life.

Once there, she immediately befriends the building’s shy but quietly charismatic landlord Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) and dabbles in a possible new romance.
But as Juliet struggles to settle into her new, ‘too good to be true’ environment, she slowly begins to suspect that all isn’t well.

Early on, Jokinen’s film intrigues by virtue of the director’s keen visual sense, which provide some disorientating ‘peeping tom’ views, and the nicely played performances of Swank and Morgan (reunited for the first time since the equally misfiring PS I Love You).

But even if you have managed to avoid the trailers, poster campaigns and TV spots determined to give the game away, Jokinen undermines his own movie by throwing in a ‘rewind’ sequence (literally) that reveals the true intentions of one of the characters, while simultaneously removing the sinister possibilities surrounding at least two other characters.

It comes too early and renders the build-up pointless… almost as if Jokinen is attempting to have his cake and eat it.

Thereafter, The Resident becomes a tedious countdown to the inevitable confrontation as Swank slowly becomes aware of what the audience already knows – albeit one that enables Jokinen to drop in a couple of unsettling moments and some more eye-catching camera-work.

But while certainly unsettling in places, the film never quite manages to grip or terrify in the way that it should, particularly given that its dealing with such real fears.

The Hitchcockian element is also ruined… with the film’s ‘Norman Bates’ character not really allowed enough opportunity to really get under the skin and psychology of his character despite fleeting suggestions that promise more than they deliver.

Swank remains as committed as ever to her role, playing to the erotic tendencies that Jokinen claims to have been seeking without appearing objectified or a damsel-in-distress, and Morgan is good value, if ultimately short-changed in his role.

But Christopher Lee’s return to the Hammer frame for the first time in over 30 years proves to be almost as big of an anti-climax as the film itself… and one of many things that simply cannot be overlooked or forgiven.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 91mins
UK DVD & Blu-ray Release: July 4, 2011