Toronto After Dark 2012: Resolution Review (Kirk Haviland)

Toronto After Dark Film Festival 2012

Resolution (2012)

Starring Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Zahn McClarnon

Written by Justin Benson

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead

Resolution, the hit film from the Tribeca and Fantasia festivals made its Toronto debut at Toronto After Dark 2012. Another cabin in the woods style thriller in a year that has also given us ‘Cabin in the Woods’, Resolution is a smaller more compact story that strives to tell an equally intense and original story. But the question is can they succeed?

Mike (Cilella) receives a deranged video via email from his junkie friend Chris (Curran). This prompts Mike to track down Chris in a cabin by the woods with a desperate plan to attempt to rehabilitate him. As the two bicker and squabble in the dilapidated abode, they soon find themselves accosted by increasingly sinister neighboring forces. Mike also stumbles upon a series of interconnected media (from diaries to VHS tapes) that begin to embroil them in a possibly supernatural plot that pervades both the cabin and its surroundings.

Resolution is not a movie that cannot be easily described or dissected, hence the shortness of the synopsis. The elements are all there, the result just needs time to sit and be contemplated. This review did not come together until a few days after the screening.  The leads Vinny Curran and Peter Cilella are both fantastic. Their natural chemistry – all of the filmmakers are incredibly close offscreen – just oozes off the screen and Vinny’s comedic timing is impeccable. Despite the natural tendency to dislike a character that is in Chris’ situation, a stubborn crack addict that doesn’t care who he hurts, Curran manages to make him a loveable lout. Peter gets hit with the straight man role this time out and responds admirably.

The script contains some of the best dialogue of any film screened at Toronto After Dark this year and makes the audience work to discover what is really happening around them. Spooling out at a methodical pace and building paranoia as more evidence is discovered, the script remains smart and edgy throughout. The ending is challenging and will be divisive as it does not explain the goings on but leaves the audience with their own thoughts and theories. Directors Aaron Moorehead and Justin Benson deliver a tightly shot film with CG work that is so flawless it is bound to fool even other effects programmers. Using all actual locations, including the cabin, and as much natural lighting as they can, the directors manage to get amazing results.

Resolution is a film that cannot easily be categorized, but despite this it is a film that is highly entertaining and worth the effort to track down. Resolution is a solid recommend.

Till Next Time,

Movie Junkie TO

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Fantasia 2012 – Resolution Review (Matt Hodgson)

Fantasia Film Festival 2012

Resolution (2012)

Starring Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Kurt David Anderson, Emily Montague, and Skyler Meacham

Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead

While I have been having an amazing time at my first-ever Fantasia Film Festival, that dark corner of my heart has yet to have its fill. Horror has always been my central interest in cinema, but I haven’t had a chance to sit down with anything truly scary yet. Perhaps the festival directors are saving the horror movies for later or perhaps this is just not a good year for horror movies. That said, I was greatly anticipating Resolution, a movie that looked scary as hell and has been greatly hyped by a number of people I had spoken to.

Michael (Cilella) and Chris (Curran) were the best of friends. However, for the past few years it seems like the two have split and gone in completely different directions. Michael has a home and a family, while Chris spends most of his time in a drug-induced stupor. One day Michael receives a compilation video, depicting Chris in an open field, using hard drugs, firing his gun, and demonstrating some of the harshest verbal abuse towards squirrels and birds in cinematic history. Since a map was also sent along with the video, Michael decides to give his old friend one more opportunity to go to rehab and salvage what’s left of his life. Michael finds Chris in a dilapidated house in the woods, furnished with little more than a bare mattress. Chris is just as resistant to rehab as he’s ever been, resulting in Michael implementing ‘plan B’. Michael handcuffs his friend to a pipe, telling Chris that he’s going cold-turkey whether he likes it or not. Unfortunately for the friends, Michael wasn’t aware of the dangerous drug-dealing characters who in the habit of stopping by to see Chris. Also, the appearance of strange pictures and stories seems to indicate that there may be another presence with them in the house, perhaps something supernatural, or is it just the drug-dealers trying to give them a good scare?

Resolution is interesting from the moment it kicks off for two main reasons. Firstly, the dynamic between Cilella and Curran is incredible and really makes the film possible. It really seems like these guys were the best of friends and had the monster of addiction thrust in between them. It’s possible that the familiarity and friendship on display from the two leads could have been brought about by the extensive rehearsals which Benson and Moorhead scheduled for three months leading up to the shooting of the film. Regardless of how it was achieved, Ciella and Curran carry the film where other actors may have stumbled.

The performances by the rest of the cast are a bit of a mixed bag. Bill Oberst Jr. gives an effectively strange performance which should give anyone the creeps. However, the dangerous characters who call on Chris at the small house often seem for more innocuous than I imagine they were supposed to. I’m not sure if this was at the level of the writing or the performances themselves, but it would have been nice for the audience to feel just as wary of these characters as Michael and Chris surely do.

As for the writing as a whole, it is wonderfully original. Admittedly inspired by the found-footage genre, Benson (who also wrote the script) borrows the palette instead of emulating something like The Blair Witch Project and paints a fresh story of his own. The screenplay is not filled with twists, like so many movies these days, but still manages to not give away the direction of the story. Also, there is no need to worry about dealing with a shaky camera for 90 minutes.

I really liked Resolution, but I didn’t love it. With a little more menace from the supporting cast and a bit more dread from the central story it would have rocketed to the top of my ‘best of the year’ list. However, listening to the incredibly positive response of others after the screening, I think I am certainly in the minority.

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