13th Jun2017

‘The Resident’ DVD Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Tianna Nori, Mark Matechuk, Krista Madison, Porter Randell, Rachel Sellan, James Murray, Mark Ettlinger, Jeff Sinasac | Written by John Ainslie, Alyson Richards | Directed by John Ainslie

resident-dvd

Not to be confused with the 2011 film of the same name, The Resident (retitled for the UK from The Sublet) is actually the latest horror film from Canadian genre outfit Black Fawn Films – the folks behind movies such as Antisocial and its sequel, The Drownsman and Bite. Their latest is less and out-and-out effects-filled horror a la Bite; instead relying much more on psychological scares and slow-brooding terror. And, despite falling into familiar territory, it works

The films follows Joanne and her husband Geoff, who move into a new apartment – and right from the get-go they should’ve known there was something amiss with their new place. After all, who would move into an apartment without meeting anyone to collect the keys AND where a note left for the new tenants says they can stay if they like it, but if not they should leave immediately… Immediately? Yeah I’d be gone straight away! With Geoff pursuing his acting career, Joanne is left alone with in the apartment her baby, feeling a growing sense of unease in her new abode. Are the sinister noises, banging on the walls and whispering voices real, or is she losing her mind? Gradually uncovering the chilling history of her new home, she desperately clings to her sanity, while fearing the horrific events of the past have left a very real and malevolent presence.

When it comes to psychological horror, there’s a fine line between slow-burning and just dull. Thankfully The Resident throws in just enough intrigue, just enough “oddness”, to keep the audience intrigued as to just what is happening to Joanne… Though at times the film does fall into cliche. If you’ve seen the likes of DePalma’s Sisters, Polanski’s Repulsion you’ll see those influences at work here. There are even times when, visually, The Resident reminded me of the stylings of Hitchcock poster/credit designer Saul Bass – in particular the apartment buildings fabulous staircase!

Whilst The Resident does falter and sucumb to the usual horror tropes and cliches at times, where it truly suceeds is in its cast. Tianna Nori, as Joanne, runs the gamut of emotions – holding the film together with a central performance that demands a lot, a LOT, from the actress. The emotional journey from happy wife to disturbed, haunted woman is core to this films story and Nori pulls it off with aplomb. She’s also ably supported by Mark Matechuk as her husband Geoff imbues his characters behaviour with subtleties not often seen in genre filmmaking these days and the sly changes in Geoff’s mannerisms really add to the disturbing nature of the films plot.

Unfortunately The Resident does fall apart slightly during the finale, as the true nature of this story is revealed and the question of whether Joanne is mad or the apartment is haunted is answered. I, for one, would have preferred a more ambiguous ending but that’s just one mans opinion…

The Resident is out on DVD now from Second Sight.

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