22 May 2017



Ever hear the saying 'the house always wins?' Well, it's usually said in the context of gambling but it applies perfectly in this case and in the case of any haunted house film ever made in which a creepy house has a mind of its own. An evil mind...

Anyway, this is far and away my favourite sub-genre of horror movie, the haunted house fright-flick. You know, where a young couple moves into a house that's still populated by the spirits of people who lived there before and who may or may not have died horribly there?

Yeah, and then you see olde-timey people whooshing past the screen in timely jump scares and sooner or later, the young couple start to quarrel and maybe one of them gets possessed by the spirit of one of the olde-timey ghosts?

Yeah, and then the person who's been possessed runs amok and kills everyone with an axe and then the spirits of the murdered peeps are forced to remain in the house forever? 

Well, I've just given away the plots of about a million horror movies there in one fell swoop, but THE RESIDENT is thankfully in a class of its own. It's the best horror film I've seen this year so far, and I've seen, like, a half a dozen horror flicks this year, haha.

Anyway, the names of the young couple in this case are Jeff and Joanna. Don't they sound adorable? Too cute for words. But they're hopelessly out-cuted by their chubby little blonde-haired baby boy, Porter, who stands and walks just like a regular little Rory Calhoun. (An in-joke from THE SIMPSONS!) He's a proper little pumpkin, and with great acting potential too. Takes direction really well. Watch out for his name in movie credits about twenty years time.

Jeff is an actor who hasn't got a clue how overwhelmed his fiancée Joanna is feeling as a new mother. Yes, the kid is toddling around the place good-style now but that new mother feeling doesn't go away till the little blighters go to college, haha.

Jeff only cares about getting movie and TV parts and he even has the utter stupidity to bring his stunning French ex-girlfriend (and fellow thespian!) home for dinner one night without giving Joanna any advance warning. The dinner does not go well. Well, d'uh...!

Alex is gorgeous and flirty and annoyingly French (well, I'm sorry but I actually knew one French person briefly so I'm talking from experience here!) while Joanna just feels miserable, slobbing around in her sweatpants, obviously still suffering from the baby blues and getting little or no support from her douchebag of a husband. 

Joanna is a beautiful, sweet-natured young woman who's just had a baby. She deserves better. She could do better, trust me. She just doesn't realise it because her self-esteem is so low it's trailing along the ground behind her, the poor thing. I've been a new mum myself and it's hard. Everyone's all over you when the baby is still inside you but once it's out, it's all, like, well, goodbye and good luck! Except no-one ever bothers to say good luck...

Jeff pays no attention to Joanna's feeling that the apartment they're sub-letting has a creepy atmosphere. Someone's banging on the walls all the time but all the other apartments are seemingly empty. A strange woman hangs around outside the apartment building in the rain all day, apparently looking for her lost baby. Unnerving, much?

There's a locked room in the apartment which, when Joanna enters it, has a baby's crib in it and a load of pictures of mothers and babies on the wall. BURNT OFFERINGS, much? Baby Porter is strangely at home in the olde-timey crib, however, so Joanna leaves him to it. In the meantime, she buries herself in the one book in the flat, the diary of a previous resident...

This is an exceptionally well-crafted horror film. There's no annoying CGI and not too many olde-timey ghosts whooshing past the screen to give you a jump scare. On the contrary, the build-up of suspense and tension is gradual and so well done it actually keeps up all the way to the end of the film. That's where so many other horror flicks fall down, isn't it?

The bit about the phones is terrifying. So many things are not as they seem that Joanna feels like she's going out of her mind and the viewer is kept unsettled and on the edge of their seat. I know that that's a bit clichéd but in this case, it happens to be true. I was so on the edge of my seat and I normally sit well back in it so as to be comfy, capiche? Ask anyone who knows me and my seating habits.

This is a genuinely scary movie that doesn't disappoint at the end like so many other films do. It delivers the scares and the acting is flawless, especially from the lead actress. She plays to perfection the part of the young mother who's overwhelmed by the birth of her child and isn't getting enough support from her partner. Jackass hasn't even put a ring on it yet. What's that about? Jackass...! Doesn't even know when he's well off. Just like most blokes.

The exterior shots of the apartment building in the rain are just gorgeous. I really enjoyed them. I enjoyed the whole film, to be honest, and at a mere seventy-eight minutes it does exactly what it's meant to do. 

Get in, scatter a few good scares around, great storyline, nice spooky atmosphere, leave the viewers wanting more, quit while you're ahead. Bada-bing, bada-boom, you're done, get out. Not like some films that don't know when to put a cork in it, haha.

THE RESIDENT is out today, 22nd May 2017, on DVD, ON-DEMAND and DIGITAL DOWNLOAD. This comes courtesy of SECOND SIGHT FILMS and AIM PUBLICITY.

It's a fantastically atmospheric horror film that put me in mind of some other films, but not in a copycat way. In a good way, I mean. Apart from BURNT OFFERINGS, I was reminded of POLTERGEIST, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, THE GRUDGE, THE WOMAN IN BLACK, THE NESTING, IT'S ALIVE and THE HAUNTING.

That's a quality list. Watch THE RESIDENT and be scared all over again, just like you were when you watched those other movies for the first time. Watch it and enjoy it, but never forget. It's like I said earlier. In films like this, the house always wins...


Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, film blogger and movie reviewer. She has studied Creative Writing and Film-Making. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, womens' fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra's books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:


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