Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead have been on my radar awhile now. I could rattle off a handful of recommendations, name-drop some of their films I’ve seen, but I imagine I will write about each of them in due time. Talking about Resolution, first and foremost, I feel is appropriate, both as their directorial debut and a solid starting point for their style to filmmaking altogether. Which is, without oversimplifying, to get a lot out of very little.
Resolution had a budget approximated as around twenty grand, and its unseen antagonist and swift production were likely a result of that. It is the bread and butter of the horror genre, after all. Studios rely on directors to churn out feature length features on shoe-string budgets, and, when they do, it’s often a horror film. Horror often finds itself in what’s unseen, championing ideas, ambiguity, and mystique. Thus, for skillful newcomers (at the time) Benson and Moorhead, they were tasked with making their limitations unknown.
Although I won’t lie to you and say the cinematography and production quality are so high a standard you won’t notice it’s budgetary restraints, where the film does succeed is enough to where you won’t notice as much.
Starring Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran, Resolution follows a graphic designer named Michael who receives an email from his estranged best friend Chris. Michael is troubled by the email, and seeks out his friend. When they meet, Michael’s fears are proven right, seeing Chris has fallen even further into his drug-addiction. In a last ditch effort, Michael restrains Chris, refusing to let him indulge his addiction. As he waits for his friend to sober up, however, he begins to realize there are other forces at work.
The film is largely straightforward, with the majority of its runtime contained in one-location, with dialogue shared between its lead protagonists.
I believe a lot of what I’ve heard about this film, or, at least, a lot of comparisons I’ve seen made about the film are misleading to what it actually is. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen The Cabin in the Woods brought up in conversation, comparing them. The thing is, there are surface level similarities (a meta-driven story component, a drug addict), but they are different beasts whose connection I would not have made on my own.
Whereas Cabin the Woods went all in on its concept, Resolution has it play second-fiddle to its characters. The performances are commendable, and the development of the characters is realized. This is a film, too, where they would have to be – because they have nothing to fall back on. It hinges on the lead protagonists to immerse you, and, usually, they succeed. As prefaced, mostly the whole film is condensed to a single-location, and your antagonist is unseen. That’s a challenge, and although it can sometimes feel like the film has trouble stretching its ideas out to feature length, I think they do well at keeping you invested.
I would recommend it as a good, albeit modest surrealist horror film. Ideally, I would recommend you watch it back-to-back with The Endless. The Endless is a spiritual successor / partial sequel to Resolution, that I feel better fleshed out the idea and has a real supplementary benefit to this film.