The Resident (2011)

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The Resident: Directed by Antti Jokinen. With Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee. When a young doctor suspects she may not be alone in her new Brooklyn loft, she learns that her landlord has formed a frightening obsession with her.

“Itu0026#39;s probably no more than coincidence, but still itu0026#39;s interesting to note how the two movies that have boldly dared to open alongside Marvelu0026#39;s summer superhero juggernaut u0026quot;Thoru0026quot; are both about a woman who becomes the target of someone elseu0026#39;s dangerous obsession within their place of stay. While the stalker is said womanu0026#39;s new college roommate in the other movie, it is young doctor Juliet Devereauu0026#39;s landlord here in u0026quot;The Residentu0026quot;- and a male at that, in contrast to u0026quot;The Roommateu0026#39;su0026quot; female.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eJuliet is played by Oscar-winning actress Hilary Swank, and while this thriller could not be further from her u0026quot;Million Dollar Babyu0026quot;, the box-office reception to her movies in the years since (e.g. u0026quot;The Reapingu0026quot;, u0026quot;Ameliau0026quot; and most recently u0026quot;Convictionu0026quot;) hasnu0026#39;t been exactly kind. Nevertheless, Swank is more than a competent actress, and she carries the movie skilfully with a nuanced performance as the victim of another personu0026#39;s mania. Indeed, she lets her audience feel her characteru0026#39;s naivety, helplessness and desperation keenly, which makes the eventual denouement between victim and stalker much more engrossing.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe stalker is the landlord of the building in which she rents an apartment overlooking New Yorku0026#39;s East River, having just separated from her boyfriend (Lee Pace). Max (Jeffrey Dean Morgan) at first appears to be the perfect proprietor, ever ready to attend to any problems in her apartment and hunky enough for Juliet to consider as a rebound guy- that is, until she gets cold feet and breaks it off. Big mistake- turns out Max ran into Juliet months ago at the hospital she works, decided he liked her, and deliberately set things up so she would come knocking to rent the apartment from him.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eWith the villain revealed within the first half-hour of the film, Finnish director Antti Jokinen- who makes her feature film debut- has an uphill task keeping her audienceu0026#39;s attention on Maxu0026#39;s increasingly intrusive and even violently obsessive ways. But Jokinen does an efficient job maintaining the suspense of the film, as we watch Max go from using her toothbrush and lying in the bathroom in the day to caressing her in bed at night after knocking her out with a drug mixture. If the film remains disturbingly riveting, it is because the film plays nicely on its audienceu0026#39;s own fears of home invasion.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eJokinen however reserves any action for the last 20 minutes of the film after Juliet discovers Maxu0026#39;s horrifying secret. Itu0026#39;s an appropriately exciting, and vicious even, finale that uses the labyrinth of hidden passageways behind the walls of the apartment from which Max hides to spy on Juliet to great claustrophobic effect. Despite the visceral thrills, the conclusion leaves something to be wanting- particularly because Jokinen and her co-writer Rober Orr fail to offer stronger motivation behind Maxu0026#39;s obsession.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThere are some flashbacks and u0026quot;Draculau0026quot; actor Christopher Leeu0026#39;s brief supporting role as Maxu0026#39;s authoritarian granddad, but largely the story doesnu0026#39;t offer enough for us to believe in Maxu0026#39;s lunacy. Morgan too doesnu0026#39;t command enough menace, and seems more comfortable playing Mr Nice Guy at the start of the film than Mr Crazy Guy by its end. One wonders if it would have been better if the writers had simply left out Max and Julietu0026#39;s brief fling and cast someone more credible, like Morganu0026#39;s fellow u0026quot;Watchmenu0026quot; actor Jackie Earle Haley, as Max.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eYet in spite of its flaws, those looking for a little counter-programming opposite u0026quot;Thoru0026quot; should find this a effective thriller that has its moments of genuine suspense and excitement. This is also legendary horror studio Hammeru0026#39;s third feature film since its recent comeback, and its first in 35 years with Christopher Lee- yet another solid effort after last yearu0026#39;s u0026quot;Let Me Inu0026quot; and should bode well for their return to mainstream territory.”

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