OCTOBER 16, 2012
If science really cared about us, they'd give ticket-buying moviegoers a one time, short expiration dated code to plug into our computer when we got home so we could watch the movie again. It would be a godsend for folks like me who "have" to write about the movies they see after a single viewing, and thus run the risk of sounding stupid when it's a challenging film like Resolution - I have questions that might have been answered in the movie under a different context. I mean, I love to see movies that encourage (but fall short of "require") a second viewing, but the key word there is "see". Not "write".
And this is doubly an issue for a festival film, because even if I understood every frame I'd be afraid to discuss it in detail, because I don't want to spoil anything for people who can't even see it yet. Why couldn't these guys have just made a stupid zombie movie like everyone else? Thus, forgive the vagueness of the review - hopefully it'll get picked up and released soon so I can get that second viewing and we can start talking about its puzzles in detail.
What I CAN discuss without any reservation is how terrific the two lead actors are, and how great their chemistry is; if you told me that they were lifelong friends, I'd believe it. Peter Cilella is Mike, a family man who decides to spend a week attempting to force his estranged best friend Chris (Vinny Curran) out of his meth habit, after attempts at convincing him to go to rehab are unsuccessful. So Chris is chained to the wall and given water and food (and the occasional beer), while Mike starts to explore the surroundings and the mysteries (or "stories") that it contains. He finds mysterious old photos, creepy 16mm films, the occasional weirdo cult member... basically every time he wanders out of the cabin, he encounters yet another "story", and then comes back to talk about it with Chris while continually monitoring his condition.
It's an unusual scenario for a film, but their chemistry makes it work like gangbusters, to the extent that you gotta wonder why you haven't seen it more often. One of the directors said he had heard the film described as "Lovecraftian Mumblecore", but I think of it more like True West meets The Shining - whatever plot elements come into play, it never strays far from its dramatic core about two guys at a crossroads in their lives, one being high and mighty, trying to convince the other to change his ways without ever considering that the guy might be perfectly happy the way he is. Even at the end (no spoilers), they're still just chatting about their lives and the role the other plays in it - it's actually quite endearing. And according to the post movie Q&A, the "mumblecore" description is misleading - the actors didn't stray from the script at all, they're just that good at acting natural (and the writers are apparently that good at writing dialogue that FEELS that way).
The threats are also varied, which helps keep the audience on edge as you're never sure exactly what is posing the danger to our heroes. Mike is seemingly being led on a trail (at one point an old library book is left for him at their door, he returns it to its home and discovers a new batch of photos), but is it someone trying to help, or lead him further into danger? Then there's a couple of crackheads who think Chris stole from them, and the owners of the cabin (Chris is a squatter), a creepy girl who taps on the window in the middle of the night... it might sound (and occasionally feel) like they're just throwing everything but the kitchen sink into the movie just to be random, but there's a rhyme and reason for it all, one that I can't talk about just yet, though I will say that it might make for a fun double feature with (swipe at your own risk!) Cabin In The Woods, as both are commenting on and embracing similar elements of the genre.
If I'm understanding correctly, Tribeca has theatrical rights to the film, and IMDb has it as a 2013 release, which is fine - perhaps it can play a few more festivals between now and then and increase its buzz. Since the horror elements are so minimal it can probably get into "normal" festivals easily (the ones that wouldn't touch, say, Eddie The Sleepwalking Cannibal), and I'm actually kind of shocked it didn't play at Fantastic Fest as it would be a fine fit for that fest's more unique, "alt" programming. And then THIS would have been my second viewing! Stupid Fantastic Fest!
What say you?