Film Review: Resolution

2012’s Resolution.

The meta, sci-fi and horror filmmaking duo of Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead have been on my radar ever since I saw 2019’s Synchronic, one of the best films that year. They are all about twisting the existential into a slow-burn of itching-in-your-skin movie-watching, and that’s the case in particular with their first outing together in 2012, Resolution.

Based on the simple premise of Michael (played by Peter Cilella), a graphic designer with a baby on the way, who is trying to help his meth-addicted longtime best friend, Chris (played by Vinny Curran), detox in a rather unorthodox way, the film slow-burns through its plot. It sort of has a Blair Witch quality to it, with the two are getting “cabin fever” inside a cabin, as Michael has chained Chris to the house to help him detox over the course of seven days. But Michael also goes exploring in the woods, the caves and there’s the vibe of the cabin being on an Indian reservation.

As a disclaimer, I would highly advise someone to not kick meth, or any drug, cold turkey like this, or to tell an individual with a drug addition that they are a selfish piece of crap and that drug addiction isn’t a disease. But hey, 2012 and all.

Nonetheless, the meta aspect here is that they come to believe that this “entity” that is messing with them — it’s the one who sent Michael the video of his drug-addicted friend in the first place, and has shown other videos and photographs that are impossible to exist — wants there to be an ending … a resolution, if you will. Michael even states, “I think if we can get to the end of the reel, then we’ll be fine.” And they do believe they get to the end of the reel, with Chris agreeing to go to rehab. But, the entity doesn’t want a happy ending.

That’s the meta part, I believe. That horror fans don’t want to see a happy ending to a horror film. They want horror. Ironically, we don’t actually get a resolution, as we only hear the entity roar its disapproval. We don’t know the fate of Michael and Chris.

One of the standout lines from the film that gets at the trippy thoughts we all have from time to time (if you’re a reddit user, perhaps a “shower thought) is a Frenchman asking Michael something like, “How would a primitive people know the difference between aliens, angels and ghosts?” And that’s a darn good point. How would they know?!

For me, one of the joys of watching cinema is finding directors and/or writers you enjoy, and then going back and watching their first films. Because you can see the flashes of brilliance. The writing, the camera work, the technique … it’s there in bits and pieces, but not quite the full picture it would become later on. That’s certainly the case here. I believe Synchronic was a more realized form of what they were going for with Resolution.

Still, if you have 88 minutes, it’s well-worth checking out this flick. Again, this one is a slow-burn, but it’s sneakily unsettling throughout.

Something worth mentioning, too: One of the silver-linings about having a small budget to work with is that it forces you to be creative. So, basically, you have the one set piece of a cabin and a few peripheral items and characters. What can we do to move the plot forward within this confined space? But also, a confined space lends itself to horror. Boom.

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