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Directed by: Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead
Starring: Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Emily Montague
Rated: NR (Suggested R for Strong Language, Some Violence, and Drug Use)
Running Time: 1 h 33 m
TMM Score: 4.5 stars out of 5
STRENGTHS: Writing, Pacing, World-Building
WEAKNESSES: Some Acting
A man travels to an isolated cabin to help his estranged best friend overcome meth addiction, only to find the cabin might hold dark secrets.
The night before watching this movie, I watched Benson and Moorhead’s The Endless, which I found to be one of the better low budget features I’d seen in recent memory. Though there were a few effects I wish could’ve been spruced up, the rest of the film was tightly written and brilliantly executed. I was so impressed with that film that I went out of my way to find this one, knowing next to nothing about it. After about ten minutes I began to get chills. While no one has been watching, Benson and Moorhead have created something incredibly special and unique.
"How does an isolated tribesman in Ecuador know the difference between an alien, an angel, and a ghost?"
(SOME SPOILERS IN THE FOLLOWING PARAGRAPH)
After Michael (Peter Cilella, The Endless) receives an unusual video showing his estranged best friend Chris (Vinny Curran, Spring) smoking meth and going stir crazy in the woods, he decides to visit him to see if he can help him get sober. Michael tells his wife, Jennifer (Emily Montague, Fright Night (2011)), that he’ll be back in a week, and heads to the woods. Once there, he finds Chris is strung out and has barely slept in days. Michael chains Chris to a pipe and tells him that he has to go sober for at least one week, and after that, Chris will be freed and left to make his own decisions. As Michael comes into contact with some of the people in the surrounding area, he realizes the place might hold a few dark secrets.
As with The Endless the best part of this movie is the writing. This movie finds a strange but appealing tone by creating a world that is simultaneously frightening and humorous. The character relationships feel real and have genuinely funny moments. Peter Ciella and Vinny Curan are both wonderful in this, and though I can’t ever see them being leading men in a huge action blockbuster, they fit this world remarkably well. Their banter, in particular, feels real and it has many moments that literally made me laugh out loud, even during scenes of tension. Chris and Michael go back and forth telling stories from their high school days, when times were simpler and easier. While the story does have its funny parts, it also has a lot of poignancy; this is, after all, a story about a man trying to get over a hardcore drug addiction. Resolution does not sugarcoat the idea of withdrawal at all. Chris is depressed, he tries to get out of his restraints, he threatens to sue Michael, and he generally hates his life for the entirety of this film; however, within those moments of suffering come moments of tenderness and heartfelt dialogue too.
Where the writing really starts to shine is when you realize what Benson and Moorhead have been doing right in front of your eyes, and this is where I recommend you see The Endless as well as this film. You don’t necessarily need to see The Endless to enjoy this film, because both films stand as really good films on their own, but seeing The Endless will certainly add another layer of amazingness to this film. I went into these films pretty much blind, and I really don’t want to spoil this for anyone who hasn’t seen either film, so I’m throwing a big SPOILER warning on the rest of this paragraph. Benson and Moorhead have created a sort of shared universe (though they don’t like that term, as it instantaneously brings to mind the Marvel movies). Both The Endless and Resolution take place in a strange little place in the middle of nowhere, and there are so many connections between the two films, but the connections are never blatantly in your face. The links between the worlds are simple things; overlapping characters, ideas, and locations; even the same strange colored marijuana that grows only in this one place. The details are just there; they’re part of the scenery and the world, much like Quentin Tarantino’s little crossovers in his world, like the Red Apple Cigarettes, the Vega brothers, and Earl and Edgar McGraw. Again, the movies work by themselves, these little connections only enhance the movies overall. It was when I first started to see these connections that I started to get chills. Why? This kind of thing is completely unheard of. Sure, crossovers are starting to happen more and more frequently; Marvel, DC, even the Conjuring has a shared universe. But to see some unknown filmmakers creating a world while no one is even aware of it is absolutely mind-blowing, and you know what? It works better than the Marvel universe. The connections aren’t the main thing with this film, the story is; the connections don’t even matter in the context of the story. In Marvel films, the crossover stuff has started to become too flashy and in your face, and most of the time, totally needless. For example, in Ant-Man, there’s really no point in having Falcon show up for a while to fight Ant-Man, other than to have Falcon later say he knows Ant-Man. The scene feels like complete fan service, it’s totally unnecessary, and if you hadn’t seen almost all the other Marvel movies, that scene would’ve been meaningless. In these films, crossovers don’t really matter all that much to the overall story, it’s just the fact that they chose to explore this world they’d created a bit more, and it works wonders for them. (SPOILERS END)
As one might imagine for a movie called Resolution the payoff comes near the end of the film. Though the movie is rather deliberately paced, I wouldn’t go so far as to call it slow. There are certainly moments of real tension throughout the entirety of this film, thus why I’ve included it in our 31 Nights of Thrills series. The film does take it’s time, however, but enjoy that. Watching what low budget filmmakers can do with a cool idea and great script is amazing, and the world they’ve created is something fantastical.
I’ve been impressed twice now by the work of Benson and Moorhead, and I fully intend to watch their other film, Spring, within the next few days. I cannot recommend both Resolution and The Endless enough. Benson and Moorhead have made something unique, and their voices are strong and unapologetic. I want to see more movies like this, from more filmmakers like them. It’s movies like this that give me hope for the future of cinema; films don’t have to be gigantic, CGI-fueled extravaganzas to be emotionally impactful. Films like these are shining stars in the middle of a black void that is the current Hollywood culture.
This is part of our 31 Nights of Thrills Series. Not all of the movies we review for this series will be strictly horror, but all will have something to do with the spirit of things spooky or scary. If you like those types of movies, be sure to check back throughout the month of October!
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