It's such an exciting feeling, when a film is announced that you know without a doubt you will be seeing with high expectations the moment it is released. A director is chosen and it inspires a reaction inside me, good or bad. Casting news, who will be composing the score, which top of the line cinematographer is selected to dazzle the audience with their keen eye. The first teaser trailer, a second one unveiling far more detail, and various clips to quench the cinematic thirst until the picture is finally released and I can take my seat, overflowing with anticipation, counting on the finished product being everything I could have hoped for and more.
This is the progression that many films take with me, as I am following the news and checking for updates on a regular basis, so when literally 30 some hours ago a friend of mine gave me a recommendation of a movie that I had never even heard of, I took notice. I did absolutely no homework after he told me the title as I decided to enter the experience as fresh as I possibly could, with an untainted mind and with the definition of zero expectations. I just clicked over the Netflix streaming, located Resolution and hit play. I was handed the gift of a fresh movie experience and I couldn't wait to unwrap it from the beginning.
Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, Resolution is a deceiving, completely surprisingly experience and I mean that as a very, very big compliment. During the first half of the picture, perhaps even beyond that, I watched it assuming it was merely a well made but relatively routine supernatural horror film. I admired it throughout because it was very well made and clearly an example of making the most of a low production budget, but I just kept waiting for the obvious and expected to occur. However, as the conclusion drew near it became apparent that this was a bold, unique and original work that was headed in a far different direction than I has assumed, and a huge smile literally spread across my face. I am reminded of when I screened the Gareth Edwards film Monsters last year, one that crept up on me and knocked my socks off by the time the final frame left the screen. Resolution is so damn good.
The premise is basic and extremely minimalist in nature. Michael and Chris were best friends but are headed in very different directions, Michael a married man with a baby on the way, Chris literally hiding out in a cabin in the woods, addicted to crack and headed down a path that can only result in an early death. Michael decides to take one more chance at saving Chris and cleaning up his life, but this won't be a simple intervention or a heartfelt conversation while hoping for the best. Michael has a taser and a pair of handcuffs, and he is willing to use both to ensure that Chris can neither leave this cabin nor smoke the rest of his stash.
Early on it is established that this won't be simply a story of two friends working out their personal demons and trying to shake the power of an addiction to hardcore drugs. Something supernatural is taking place here, as an entity is making itself known through cryptic messages to Michael and its obvious that it is not happy. Now, this is a difficult part of the film to discuss without spoiling the experience, but the supernatural aspect was initially suspect and probably leading towards predictability, yet by the end it was absolutely the soul of the film, the piece that I loved the most and admire so deeply because of what it is really trying to say beneath the surface. In the end you may not comprehend what the message was, and this is understandable. The closing moments are rather ambiguous and confounding, but pay close attention to the dialogue during this film as they discuss that the entity is looking for a story and needed the right ending to it. Then the final words uttered of the film made it all click, and I wanted to stand up and give an ovation to whomever was smart enough to write this extremely self aware and clever screenplay.
While far, far less comedic than the film Cabin in the Woods, I was reminded very much of that here with Resolution because bubbling beneath the surface of this story is a look at horror films and what we, the audience, demand of them. If you decide to pull up Netflix streaming and give this one a spin (and you absolutely should), think about the title and what it might mean: Resolution. The main characters here, Michael and Chris, come to one in the end and it certainly isn't what I could have ever expected, but would the supernatural force that threatens them allow it to happen?
In the end this isn't a film about Michael or Chris or drugs or drug dealers or even the lurking dangers of a supernatural force at all. It is a film about expectations and the workings of the human mind, and in the end it asks us a question: do we want a warm and uplifting resolution in which Chris chooses to go to rehab, turning his life around and becoming close with his former best friend again? Or do we want exactly what we were expecting all along?