In a word – outstanding.
In three words ‘Un-nerving’ ‘Tense’ and ‘Visceral’.
Indeed I very much wish I had viewed this long before I had watched ‘The Babadook’, ‘Shut-In’ and a whole raft of other recent psychological thrillers because for me, this is definitive and sets a benchmark I cannot see being beaten anytime soon.
The plot of ‘The Resident’ follows a young couple and their infant son as they try to make a new life for themselves having, out of some desperation, moved into a mysterious apartment with a sordid past. As their relationship becomes more distant and fractured we spend most of our time with Joanna (Tianna Nori) as she copes with the burden of a young child, coping with postnatal hormones and the small fact that she believed there is a malevolent entity lurking within the shadows of her home with some insidious designs on her child.
The film begins at a distinctly laboured pace but it has that something about it that immediately bought me on board. Not only is the acting from both Nori and her on screen husband Geoff (Mark Matechuk) absolutely on point, but everything from the washed out ‘depressive’ colour pallet to the oppressive and cold ambient soundtrack creates an atmosphere which you could slice with a knife. It drew me in to the extent that I had to give myself 5 minutes at one point to check on my own kid, unnerved to a point where I thought I might have to give it a break for the evening and come back the next day for round 2!
It isn’t desperately scary in a typical sense, although there are some more traditional horror elements woven into the films many dark and sinister sequences, but it is tense, and very very dark in tone. As Joanna begins to scratch at the apartments violent history, courtesy of a tattered journal left behind following the suicide of a previous tenant, there are many nods at the supernatural without it becoming trite at any point. There are some jump scare moments, but they are few and far between, indeed I was equally impressed with the restraint and confidence that the film held right up to the films shocking and memorable finale (more on that in a minute).
Indeed, what made this film chilling (and quite honestly freak me right out) was the fact that this was one of the only movies within which I felt that we weren’t being shown or told the characters were losing it, you felt it too. Be it supernatural or psychological, this movie makes it completely convincible that it could be both. Indeed the only other movie I could think of which matched it for conviction would be ‘The Shining’. Similar to that film also, once the movie gains momentum you are simply swept up in it! Be it the grimy sexual tension and cruel torment of the protagonist, or the claustrophobic nature of the apartment, or indeed the relentless crying of the child or the pounding on the walls – everything about this movie puts your right there in the thick of it, and rather than confuse you with convoluted plot twists and fantastic CGI spectres this film telegraphs one very obvious point, its conclusion is not likely to be a happy one.
Speaking of conclusions, what a stunner. Just when you think you’ve seen the best of an already outstanding 90minutes the films climax takes the film straight to that other level, blood soaked and raw. Loved it. If other comparable movies submitted to mainstream at the end of their plight, offering a nice helping of happy ending to the viewer, this film figuratively rips the throat right out of you!
Overall, if you read our reviews and have come to trust our judgements (BTW thanks for that!), then consider this one of my more prominent recommendations. This and the French masterpiece ‘Inside’, the double bill of your worst nightmares for maternal horror.