Juliet Devereau (Swank), a doctor who is flat-hunting following a messy break-up with her unfaithful ex, Jack (Lee Pace), lands a great deal in the form of a spacious apartment overlooking the Brooklyn Bridge. Renting from Max (Morgan), the owner with whom she soon finds herself getting along famously, Juliet is introduced to her sole neighbour, Max’s grandfather, Christopher Lee. Sensing a presence stalking the halls, and tarnishing her reputation at work with a series of uncharacteristic sleep-ins, Juliet grows increasingly suspicious of her landlord, whose friendly demeanor falters upon the reconciliation of her relationship with Jack.
Without the looming shadow of universally praised source material, Hammer Films are finally free to deliver a film relatively bereft of expectation. While Let Me In was serviceable enough, it ultimately disappointed in comparison to the outstanding Swedish original. Entering the cinema without such preconceptions, The Resident plays like a much straighter horror film in keeping with the studio’s trademark hammy tone and thick atmosphere.
Boasting an accomplished cast and well executed cinematography (is there nothing writer-director Antti Jokinen cannot do?), The Resident builds tension and draws the viewer in with practiced aplomb. While no character is particularly likable, they are suitably believable; a nice change from the cookie-cutter teens populating the Platinum Dunes production line. Morgan is wonderfully menacing as the perverted Max, his understated performance eventually giving way to a gripping threat that carries the film through its final act. Two-time Oscar winner Swank is equally effective as the strong-yet-vulnerable Juliet, her reaction to the revelation that she is being stalked genuinely affective. Surprisingly, the only duff note comes from studio staple Lee, while not necessarily a bad performance, his character is frustratingly superfluous.
That said, there is little that stands out about The Resident. It’s jumpy without ever being scary. Atmospheric without being nail-biting. Well acted without being particularly compelling. Max is unlikely to find himself a place in the pantheon of cult horror villainy, while Juliet doesn’t have the balls to be a memorable scream queen. Although serviceable enough, and undoubtedly enjoyable, there is little about The Resident – other than the fact that it is free of MICHAEL BAY’s influence – that makes it stand out from the rest.
Hammer Films is back. And while they have re-established themselves as a competent and equipped horror studio, they have yet to live up to their considerable reputation as genre maestros. If there is more to the film that meets the eye, it is unfortunate that the same can’t be said for the DVD extras; be prepared to make do with a rather unnecessary theatrical trailer.