Movie Review - Resolution
Resolution is a 2012 indie-horror film directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, written by Benson, and starring Peter Ciella and Vinny Curra. Recently released on DVD and VOD (October 2013) and now streaming on Netflix, this is a fine example of meta-horror used insanely effectively. Which makes the fact that people compare it to Cabin in the Woods downright insulting. Because Cabin in the Woods feels smug and pretentious, made on a big budget and full of off-putting CGI effects, trying so hard to wink at the genre that it ends up just seeming desperate. A more accurate comparison for Cabin in the Woods is the Wayans Brother's A Haunted House. Resolution, on the other hand, fits in with a new school of indie-filmmaking, where film makers excel at working with very little and achieving sublime results.
Resolution is a simple story about two friends. The entire piece is completely character driven, featuring two personas that are interesting enough to keep us riveted for the length of the film. It was ten years ago that writers and director James Wan and Leigh Wahnell used a similar formula to create one of the most successful and innovative indie-horror films of all time: Saw. Resolution was made for much less money and on a much smaller scale than Saw, but in both cases, the formula creates the perfect framework for the movie. And the directors work magic by not overdoing it, instead letting the story unfold at a leisurely pace, waiting for the films final minutes to reveal their hand.
When Michael, a graphic designer who is married and lives in the city, receives an email from his former friend, Chris, who is now a junkie and seemingly delusional, he decides to make one last attempt to save his friend from the grips of addiction. He follows a map contained in the email and finds Chris squatting a a run down cabin. When Michael's plea to his friend to go to rehab is unsuccessful, he tries something a little less traditional - he renders Chris temporarily immobile and then handcuffs him to a pipe on the wall. He informs him that he intends to stay with him until the drugs are out of his system, hoping that will push him to accept help. That night Chris reveals that he never sent Michael an email. The following day a tribal security guard arrives to inform them that they are squatting on an Indian reservation. He accepts a bribe from Michael to allow them to stay for five days. During the next five days Michael begins discovering ominous photographs and a library book left on the doorstep. And the line between fiction and reality suddenly begins to blur.
I dont like to give away plot details, so I haven't given away any of the films awesome surprises. It truly is a riveting story. I think the real success of the movie, though, is the strength of the two leading actors. The dynamic between the pair is superlative, playing every moment of tension and humor with palpable realism. The genuine sense of familiarity and frustration they convey is the centerpiece of this film, and what makes it work so well.
My hats off to everyone involved in making this film. It has gotten almost entirely positive reviews from the horror community (despite the unsavory comparison to Cabin in the Woods…in case I haven't mentioned that yet) and rightfully so. I look forward to seeing their next film, because I found this film to be a promising look at the career of two wonderful new horror directors. I hope they create something equally as interesting the next time around. Definitely see this film, especially now while it's streaming on Netflix. Cheers.
- Leo Francis