01st Feb2014

‘The Tenant’ Review

by Phil Wheat

Stars: Kristen Dalton, David Arquette, Victor Browne, Morissa O’Mara, Alana O’Mara, Franny Hocking, Ken Baumann, Lorraine Nicholson, Bellamy Young, Rome Shadanloo | Written by Nick Antosca | Directed by Chris Jaymes


Originally released in the US in 2012 under the title of The Cottage and no doubt renamed to avoid confusion with the similarly themed British film from 2008, The Tenant sees Chloe (Dalton) and Michael Carpenter rent out the cottage behind their house to charming novelist, Robert Mars (Arquette) the whole family are delighted, but soon after he moves in the family start to fear they are being stalked and watched. Their fears are heightened when a family friend goes missing but with no evidence and the law against them they struggle to fight a deadly threat in their own backyard.

The Tenant is one of those slow-burning horror/thriller hybrids that expends a lot of energy in setting up the creepy atmosphere yet takes its time with the core of the plot – which can frustrate those that are looking for quick scares – but for those willing to stick with them, these types of films usually make for suspenseful viewing. Unless of course the denouement completely fails to live up to the suspense.

In this case The Tenant‘s final pay off comes somewhat out of left field, yet and the same time feels right. However the film really bloody takes its time getting there – piling on strange situations and stranger characters until you’re eventually screaming out for some kind a explanation! Thankfully when we do get an explanation for Arquette’s bizarre action, the script by Nick Antosca manages to avoid being TOO cliched and goes for a Manson-esque ‘love’ story rather than what I expected from this type of evil neighbour flick – the “you ruined my life so I’m going to ruin yours” tale… It’s a twist that, despite the generic title, should raise this film over and above others of its ilk.

I’ve always said that David Arquette can play great enigmatic villains, much more so than the comedic good-guy roles he usually typifies, and here he shows just how well he can play psycho; and thankfully he has a great foil in Alana O’Mara, who plays trouble-teen-turned-lunatic really (possibly too) well, proving the quiet ones are always the dangerous ones. And it’s always nice to see Victor Browne in anything, even if it’s a small(er) role – I was a huge fan of Tremors: The Series and I haven’t really seen him in much since. Just a shame his role couldn’t have been bigger.

The Tenant is not without its flaws of course, the lack of real explanation is probably drawn out a little too long – as is the ending; but overall this is a surprising film that had me gripped until the final credits.

The Tenant is out on DVD from 101 Films.


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