Gender-based clichés of fear get trotted out in The Resident, a goosing stalker thriller starring Hilary Swank. A perfunctory, short-window theatrical release built no effective buzz
for this clunking, clanging programmer, which adds nothing new to the single-woman-in-peril subgenre.
Swank stars as Juliet Dermer, a New York ER doctor recently separated from her philandering husband Jack (Lee Pace). Though only half-ready to start a new life on her own, she soon lands what seems like a dream apartment. Her handsome and helpful new landlord is Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan, above, showcasing grade-A lurking ability), who is fixing up the place, and lives with his leering grandfather August (Christopher Lee). Before long Juliet is gripped by the feeling that she’s being watched, and she’s not wrong. In short order, Max reveals himself to be quite disturbed, and he reacts strongly to a potential reconciliation between Juliet and Jack. The proceedings build to a violent finale which serves a persuasive case against self-renovation.
In fitful fashion, Finnish music video and feature film debut director Antti Jokinen achieves a so-so mood of lingering creepiness, abetted by decent production design and the soft cinematography of Guillermo Navarro, who fills his frames with oaky hues and rich shadows. But Jokinen ladles on stale music cues and sound effects, and the movie’s editing is not always clear. The Resident‘s chief problem, though, is its script, by Jokinen and Robert Orr. It lacks any believable motivations, or artful enough dialogue to paper over this problem. Little more than an unconvincing collection of actions, it quickly abandons any significant flirtation with misdirection, settling upon Max as a villain and then cycling through a litany of sinister bits seemingly pulled in random order from a hat.
Swank by and large adequately conveys the juggled dual demands of steely, modern-day occupational professionalism and feminine vulnerability that such a genre exercise requires, but is consistently let down by the material. Morgan, meanwhile, trades in visual shorthand, deploying a variety of smirks and squints. Rumor has it he committed to the project without reading the script, which makes some of this make sense, so unfocused and broad are some of his choices. Either way, the end result elicits little more than yawns, basically.
Housed in a regular Blu-ray case, The Resident comes to the format presented in 2.35:1 anamorphic widescreen, in a 1080p high-definition transfer, with a DTS-HD master audio 5.1 track and optional English and Spanish subtitles. Bonus features, you might reasonably expect? Nah, none of those, except a version of the movie’s trailer. To purchase the Blu-ray via Amazon, click here. C- (Movie) D- (Disc)