Spurred on by Spring, one of the best movies I’ve watched recently, I wanted to see if it marked an evolution in form and style on the part of moviemakers Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson by catching up on their 2012 feature debut Resolution. Ostensibly billed as a “horror” movie, it has less in common with the genre than that – it’s more of a mystery movie than anything else, and it’s a good one. Unfortunately, both movie posters I’ve seen (including the one I chose) do the movie a huge disservice.
While the archplot of the movie is simple (man plans to rescue a former best friend from his drug addiction), the execution is masterful, leading to an intriguing, absorbing work, with an ending I truly loved.
The movie opens with the obnoxious character of Chris (the addict) being an asshole in the boondocks of the southwest, shooting off guns, getting high off meth, you know it. I was turned off a little by this, but the opening is not so much a character into than it is a vital piece of the story itself, and when that’s revealed, retroactively I was 100% fine with it. This is not to say that Chris is not an annoying asshole in the movie, but I think that’s because the actor who’s playing him (Vinny Curran) seems like he’s acting – many times his delivery feels too on-the-nose, and not because he’s playing a junkie. In contrast, Peter Cilella, who plays the protagonist Mike, invests his character with a kind of effortless pathos, and he’s fantastic to watch. It’s clear who the better of the two actors are here. Another thing that’s clear though (with Spring in mind) is that co-directors Benson and Moorhead get actors. They understand the process and are able to get winning performances from their leads. Curran is not bad, he’s just okay, and the other bit players in the movie also feel fully realized. When you have an indie production like this, with a scant budget, the one thing that will elevate quality is in the performances – a lot of that is down to the actors you hire, but the talent of the director is frequently the catalyst for good work, and while it’s impossible to determine from watching whether Benson or Moorhead directed their own scenes or co-directed each scene, the consistency of approach is steady. Very enjoyable to watch from a technical exercise.
In addition to the technical aspect of watching a movie, there’s also the primary objective of entertainment, and here Resolution delivers solidly. You could look at the movie as being part of the cabin-in-the-woods sub genre because the tropes are all there, alive and well. While the action doesn’t take place in a cabin as such, the unfinished home might as well be, and as in other examples, there are items found that are typically bad news; the protagonist uncovers them, leading to the plot taking over. Since these are huge elements, you do get a sense of over-familiarity as the movie unreels, but there are enough stylistic variances at play here in story content that it’s easy to forgive them. At times I got a kind of David Lynch vibe here – there are a few elements in Resolution that wouldn’t be out of place in any of his movies, in fact, throughout, I was reminded of Lost Highway. Not because of the story, just these ingredients. When I compare any work to Lynch’s that’s hugely favourable, incidentally. And it could be a side effect of the budget, but the mood also reminded me of Peter Weir’s masterpiece Picnic At Hanging Rock, where the setting itself generated much of the atmosphere – this is another indication of the talent of Benson and Moorhead. How easy is it to set up a camera in the country and have the actors in front of it? Very. To also be able to use the background to enhance scenes – that is difficult to achieve, but they pull it off expertly.
In terms of the story, I’m a sucker for mystery over what plays for “horror” these days. Resolution is a hugely character-driven jigsaw puzzle of a movie where the pieces added don’t solve the mystery, they grow it, expand it, feed it to the point where, at the movie’s end you’re left with an even bigger one, unanswered. I was thrilled to bits with this ending. On one hand, it almost turns the entire movie into a huge piece of metafiction – but on the other hand it introduces an element that brings a giant sense of cosmic wonder to the story. To say any more would be poor form – I loved it.
So now I’m going to seek out V/H/S Viral, which contains a segment by these guys. I’m totally sold on their talent and I’m looking forward to it. If their next movie, reportedly about Aleister Crowley (a favourite subject of mine), is another hit, it won’t be long before they get some high profile work. Resolution is a must-watch recommendation from me.
© Andrew Hope, 2016
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This review was originally published on 3/14/2016 at https://thatsnotcurrentblog.wordpress.com