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A peer of mine recently referred to a current of wave of
genre films as “stealth horror.” That is, pictures seemingly very interested in
a more dramatic reading until finally giving themselves over to the throes of
terror. And while RESOLUTION (currently seeing its premiere at New York’s
Tribeca Film Festival) is much more clearly aiming for scare territory—not to
mention, being undoubtedly reverent of the power of that territory— its
ambiguous, lo-fi nature wouldn’t be out of place in the likes of such recent
fare as ENTRANCE, MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE and WE NEED TO TALK ABOUT KEVIN.
That’s not to say that RESOLUTION is as powerful as the
latter two mentioned, but its mystery, performances and ideas certainly do pack
a lasting punch (something that, as with many of these films will be harder to
discuss in detail).
Co-directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorehead, from
a script by Benson, the film sees Michael (Peter Cilella), on the cusp of
having a baby, attempt to save his longtime best friend Chris (Vinny Curran)
from the depths of serious drug addiction. After receiving a video of Chris at
absolute bottom, Michael’s plan involves a seven day campout at the house Chris
is currently squatting in, and as he handcuffs Chris to a pipe, begins to
investigate the odd antiques and strangers littered around the area.
Of course, Chris didn’t send the video himself, something we
soon learn as Michael’s busy work/distraction from some of the harsher truths
about his relationship with Chris picks up heat and leads to run-ins with drug
dealers, mentally ill, a space cult, an odd French gentleman (in the film’s
most compelling scene) and possibly the supernatural.
Moorhead and Benson do a fine job balancing the intimate
nature of Chris and Michael’s interactions (as Michael tries desperately to
convince Chris to stay clean and Chris, in turn, tries to convince Michael to
let him be) and the threat outside; as do Cilella and Curran, adeptly forming a
believable bond and chemistry that includes both humorous shorthand and a more
complicated push/pull. There’s an ethereal nature to that which lies in the
caves and crevices of the Native American reservation they’re on and in turn,
the directors smartly give an omnipresent, otherworldly feel to their camerawork,
reinforcing the unsettling notion that whatever it is, it’s all around them.
That sentiment is hammered home in the aforementioned encounter with a French
scientist named Byron (Bill Oberst Jr). In his one, extended scene, Oberst
steals the show rambling to Michael, and hinting at the void some of the film’s
larger themes and concepts reside in; namely, the idea that negative energy
attracts more of the same, be it beyond our understanding, or reality based and self-destructive.
At film’s end, there’s a sense that all thrown against the
wall in RESOLUTION doesn’t quite coalesce. It’s a concern slightly alleviated
on further inspection and thought, but not wholly so. Still, Benson and
Moorehead have otherwise crafted a strong debut that, not only manages to keep
a sense of balance throughout, but is successful in a providing a serious shiver or
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