Hammer Horror has been off our screens for over 30 years, returning only last year with the surprisingly decent Let Me In, the English language adaptation of Swedish vampire movie, Let The Right One In. The Resident is their second attempt at getting back into the game but if it’s any indication of the forthcoming quality of their films, they might as well abandon all hope right now.
Hilary Swank plays ER doctor Juliet Devereau who answers a call to view a new apartment. Everything looks great: it’s in a nice neighbourhood, the rent’s cheap and she’s immediately enamoured by the helpful and handsome landlord Max. But Max is more than he seems and his geniality eventually gives way to the sinister as his advances turn from earnest to aggressive.
The Resident piques interest early as it sets up Max’s grandfather (Hammer Horror veteran Christopher Lee) and Juliet’s ex-boyfriend Jack (Lee Pace) as possible antagonists. Grandfather August peers creepily out of his room into the corridors watching anyone who comes in or out and Jack’s desire to come back in Juliet’s life after cheating on her make him seem untrustworthy. It’s a build up which is initially effective at building slow suspense.
But having aroused suspicions and allowed the audience to keep guessing (could Juliet’s threats be all around her?), it discards any possible intrigue far too early revealing Max to be the threat all along. With any notion of suspense derailed, The Resident rapidly descends into a fun fair ride of horror clichés which will spark more smirks than screams. Giggle as Max brushes his teeth with Juliet’s toothbrush, snicker as Max sucks Juliet’s fingers from under the bed – the attempt to make these scenes even more disturbing by ramping up the music makes them seem even more unintentionally hilarious.
With any subtlety discarded, the third act becomes a dull cat-and-mouse chase as Juliet tries to escape the building with Max hot on her heels, culminating in a abrupt ending which doesn’t even contain any expected twists.
It’s a completely uninvolving affair, made worse by its numerous plot holes – Juliet sets up a surveillance system which handily doesn’t cover anywhere useful; she’s a doctor but fails to recognise the symptoms of a drugging; Christopher Lee’s untimely departure goes completely unremarked upon.
As unimaginative as it is clumsy, The Resident is a completely unnecessary movie which begs the question: exactly what is a two-time Oscar winner like Hilary Swank doing in a film like this?