Joanna and husband Geoff move into a rented sub-let apartment together with their baby son. With Geoff out networking and auditioning for roles in television shows and movies, Joanna spends most of her days alone with baby Porter. Noisy neighbours and weird strangers lurking outside the building put her on edge, something which doesn’t help her self-esteem with her feeling unattractive post-birth of her child. Her husband’s decision to bring home ex girlfriend Alex doesn’t help maters either. The only solace she seems to find is a room in the apartment that once belonged to a woman in a similar position to herself. Discovering and reading the woman’s diary, Joanna discovers the miserable life she led which ended in bloodshed. As Joanna’s own life worsens, the line between her life and the one she’s read about begin to blur.
THE RESIDENT, also known as THE SUBLET, is a claustrophobic thriller that centres around housewife Joanna. At first her life seems pretty perfect but life at home with new baby Porter seems to increasingly get her down until she starts to lose a grip on reality. The audience witnesses her existence through similar eyes as we struggle to decipher what is real and what is not. Dreaming of violent episodes leaves us questioning whether what we saw was merely a dream or in fact reality that Joanna has convinced herself is otherwise. Joanna is adamant that the root of the problems she’s experiencing are down to the apartment and it’s hard not to disagree with banging becoming a regular occurance along with knocking on the door despite no-one being in the hallway. Joanna even spots a creepy figure lurking outside the building who only seems to apear for her. Joanna’s husband Geoff, a struggling actor, rubbishes his wife’s claims as nonsense which only fuels Joanna’s anxiety and feeling of loneliness. The viewer is left with no choice but to watch Joanna spiral out of control as the film purposely flits between reality and illusion, Joanna’s life and that of the one she’s read about in the diary, leaving the viewer to fathom out how Joanna can possibly escape this nightmare.
Though THE RESIDENT is an intense affair at times, I couldn’t help but think that I’ve seen this time and time before and it turned out to be a predictable experience from the start. Maybe I’m just accustomed to my horror tropes but nothing here really made me sit up and go “wow!”. It’s essentially a run-of-the-mill horror that decides to borrow from the likes of The Shining to beef up its story but unfortunately the full picture left me a bit empty with little on offer to put me on the edge of my seat. The scares are pretty much psychological and surreal but are few and far between with characters, other than Joanna, who you don’t actually care for.
I’m sure this movie will please some horror fans but I feel that it fails to bring anything new to the table.