Color, 2011, 91m.
Directed by Antti Jokinen
Starring Hilary Swank, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Lee Pace, Christopher Lee, Aunjanue Ellis
Image (Blu-Ray & DVD) (US RA/R1 HD/NTSC) / WS (2.35:1) (16:9) / DTS-HD5.1/DD5.1

Hammer Films has been quite busy since its resurgence in 2008; apart from the already forgotten Beyond the Rave, they've been busy cranking out remake like the thankfully-not-terrible Let Me In and a remake of The Woman in Black. One of their original screenplays, The Resident, is a project that was shopped around to a few actresses and managed to land two-time Oscar winner Hilary Swank, who's already proven her affinity for genre fare with The Reaping. Of course, the big news here was the reunion of Hammer with one of its biggest stars, Christopher Lee, who pops up for what amounts to a glorified cameo in the first half of the film; still, it's nice to see him back in a horror film, and hopefully next time he'll have a little more to do. The film itself turns out to be a glossier than average slasher film with a much higher pedigree than you'd expect from a script that wouldn't particularly stand out as one of those Lifetime thrillers of the week; it's no classic, but one has to wonder how this bypassed theatrical distribution when worthless slop like The Roommate and the remake of The Stepfather get smeared all over multiplexes across the country.

New York doctor Juliet Devereau (Swank) is reeling from her breakup with unfaithful boyfriend Jack (Pace) and, after a particularly bloody day at work, gets wind on a great deal on a new apartment that's undergoing renovation. The landlord, Max (Morgan), is still doing repairs but offers her the keys on the spot, while his sinister grandfather (Lee) lurks down the hall and leaves little gifts at her door. Juliet's new pad seems great at first, but someone's hiding behind the walls watching her every move and putting together a sinister agenda. Who could it be?

Well, the cover gives that little twist away right off the bat, but the film does pull a nice little narrative flip at the one-third mark that indicates the filmmakers at least had a little more on their minds than a rehash of Bad Ronald or Sliver, and while the film eventually devolves into another cat-and-mouse game with the two survivors bashing the crap out of each other with bathroom implements and a nail gun, the actors give it their all anyway. The underrated Morgan (Watchmen, TV's Supernatural) gives the best performance despite his sketchy motivations, and it's sickly hilarious to see him teamed up again with Swank, his co-star from the feel-good romance P.S. I Love You under very different circumstances. While Lee is given little to do, Pace (also a good actor, as proven in The Fall and TV's Pushing Daisies) is utterly wasted in one of the most thankless parts in recent memory. He basically gets to send a couple of text messages and walk around a little bit. Finnish director Jokinen (making his feature debut) has a solid eye for composition and delivers a couple of decent jolts, especially one ripped effective from the Nightmare on Elm Street playbook, but the real craft here lies with cinematographer Guillermo Navarro (who shot most of Guillermo Del Toro's films and won an Oscar for Pan's Labyrinth), who does a stellar job here with some amazingly coloful scope compositions, and composer John Ottman, a solid talent who's been ably skipping between mainstream fare like Superman Returns and horror titles like Orphan. Don't expect anyone to reinvent the wheel here, but if you want a slick and competent thriller with a merciful absence of torture or music video editing, this could pass an evening smoothly enough.

Image's release of The Resident is available on Blu-Ray and DVD; the former looks as strong as you'd expect from a 2011 title, though some night scenes are intentionally murky and have a nasty orange cast at times that's similar to but less excessive than the urine-cam tints found in too much of Let Me In. It's not an overly crisp or vivid-looking film, but given the nature of its intended look, the rendition looks fine. The DTS-HD soundtrack is mostly subdued but delivers a few loud bangs and directional effects where it counts. The only extra is the spoiler-ish theatrical trailer.