Chris (Vinny Curran) has systematically alienated everyone and everything in his life. Whatever family he has left turned their back on him in disgust long ago. The people he used to call his friends
have been repulsed past the point of no return. No job. No home. No prospects. He just flits from place to place, shacking up wherever he can and hiding from the world in a haze of drugs. Michael (Peter Cilella), his oldest and almost certainly last friend in the world, sees a glimmer of hope in Chris that escapes everyone else. If Michael can't convince Chris to give rehab a fair shot, he'll handcuff the bastard to the wall and force him to dry out for a full week. He'll figure out the rest later. Of course it's a terrible idea -- hell, Michael's wife bluntly tells him so at the outset -- but he doesn't know what else to do...how to stop someone who once meant so much to him from slowly killing himself.
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Maybe you're wondering what the hook is from there. Is there some psychological torment where Chris, despite being shackled, turns the tables on someone claiming to be his friend? Does Michael get mortally wounded, and his only chance at survival lies in the hands of a hopeless addict he'd tased and chained to the wall? Is it a home invasion flick? Does some unnatural force swoop in on the cabin, threatening to consume them all? There's quite a lot to praise about Resolution, and somewhere near the top of the list is that it's never the movie you think it's going to be. It doesn't have some pre-credit teaser that spells out who or what the tormentor for the next 93 minutes is gonna be. It introduces one potential threat after another -- the pissed-off Native Americans whose land they've invaded, Chris' tweaked-out partners in meth, the creepy little girl who relentlessly taps at their window in the dead of night -- without announcing which one or which combination is the Big Bad. There's a sense of unease that pervades almost every frame in Resolution, and a key part of it is not knowing what's lurking around the next bend. This is what horror movies are supposed to do, but it hardly ever really works in practice. Resolution not only nails it, but it does so without leaning on any jump scares, stings in the score, or cheap gore as a crutch. You can probably tell that I'm reluctant to reveal more about what Chris and Michael are pitted against, and that's not because I'm trying to keep from spoiling some twist. Resolution isn't that kind of movie at all; it's just that there's a real sense of discovery, one that the film invests a lot of time developing, and that's so much more meaningful than having me blithely spell it all out in a plot summary.
The junkie-forced-to-go-cold-turkey-in-a-remote-cabin premise has some surface similarities to the Evil Dead remake that limped into theaters earlier
this year, and that's a pretty perfect point of reference for what Resolution gets right where so many other genre films fail. There really aren't any characters in the Evil Dead retread. No one ever genuinely comes across as friends or family. They're pretty much all one-note archetypes straight outta central casting. They're only around because you wouldn't have much of a body count otherwise. The horror in Resolution is effective because it's well-crafted, but it's greatly heightened by the fact that its two central characters matter. Chris and Michael really do come across as lifelong friends, at least at one time close to the point of basically being brothers. There's a chemistry, a rapport, a genuine bond that's rarely glimpsed in horror. There are layers and dimensions to these characters that transcend two or three word stock descriptions. The usual Junkie's Running Dry clichés like the pale, gray makeup and hollow eyes you're probably picturing are all noticeably absent; hell, Chris is the funniest and most charismatic guy in the movie. Resolution greatly benefits from having such an outstanding cast, and it wouldn't have been nearly as effective without Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran in front of the camera.
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I'm genuinely in awe of Resolution. It's astonishingly unique, at no time coming across as a movie I've ever seen before. Its grip never relents, crafting an unnerving atmosphere without relying on a big scare every six minutes like clockwork. Resolution is somehow a horror movie, a comedy, and a dramatic, emotionally resonant character piece all at the same time, executing each one of those disparate genres brilliantly. It's a remarkably well-crafted film in every sense, wonderfully acted, written, directed, and photographed. The way it all comes together near the end to is just...there aren't words. Honestly, this is why I write reviews. I appreciate having the opportunity to discover movies like Resolution that otherwise would've slunk under my radar, and I'm proud to have an opportunity to turn other people onto a film that has so deeply impressed me. Easily one of the most remarkable films of the year, genre or otherwise, and I can't recommend it highly enough.
Okay, "beautiful" might not be the first word that springs to mind for a movie set almost entirely in a hopeless drug addict's rundown shack, but Resolution really is a knockout. The attention paid to lighting and composition...I mean, this isn't some run and gun, down-'n-dirty horror flick, and its striking cinematography translates very nicely to Blu-ray. It's not the most razor-sharp or most startlingly detailed disc I've ever come across, but I'm not left with much of anything to complain about, and it's more than worth the extra couple of bucks over the standalone DVD release.
Resolution is presented on a dual layer Blu-ray disc at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. An anamorphic widescreen DVD is also along for the ride in this combo pack.
Resolution features two 16-bit DTS-HD Master Audio soundtracks: one in stereo and the other in 5.1. I didn't do a direct comparison between them, but I kinda suspect that I wouldn't hear much of a difference. I hardly ever noticed the surround channels buzzing to life in the 5.1 mix, and the lower frequencies are reserved mostly for some unnerving, off-screen pounding that no one's all that sure what to make of, exactly. Resolution is propelled by its dialogue and performances, so there's no reason for there to be hyperaggressive split-surrounds or foundation-rattling bass or anything like that. Wouldn't have minded a little more in the way of atmospherics, tho'. Everything's balanced cleanly and clearly in the mix, and most importantly, the film's dialogue is rendered without any concerns. Understated but effective.
No dubs this time around. Subtitles are limited to English (SDH) only.
Well, that's a special edition, alright.
- Outtakes and Unseen Footage (39 min.): It's mentioned in the main commentary that just about everything that was shot for Resolution wound up being used, so there really aren't any deleted scenes. You do get extended versions of the found footage and a longer take on the cult encounter, though, clocking in around five and a half minutes in total. Another highlight around these parts is an eleven minute outtakes/blooper reel, complete with Llama Centipede, some brutal Foley work, a fist fucking riff, and Vinny Curran barking "I shit in the bucket!" over and over and over and over
and over and over and over. Finally, there's a twenty two minute collection of behind the scenes footage. It plays kind of like a video diary early on but mostly gives a fly-on-the-wall view of the production from there, covering rehearsals, principal photography, a grueling, endless mix, and just about everything in between. My favorite part is seeing actors in grisly splatter makeup disinterestedly poking around on their iPhones.
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- Film Festival Promos (22 min.): Instead of just shooting some white bread "thanks for coming to our screening!" or "look for Resolution at the Something Something Something International Film Festival!", Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead hammered out a series of shorts, and they're fucking genius. Wildly eclectic, howlingly funny, they even have a VFX budget...if I'm not saying as much as I should about 'em, then you know why they call it "hushed awe". I don't want to spoil any of it, but these promos really are essential viewing. Oh, and despite the film festival-centric heading on the Special Features menu, there are also a couple of similarly minded VOD promos.
- Weird Extras (14 min.): No, really, how much do I love a Blu-ray disc with a section called "Weird Extras"? An 'Alternative Lifestyle' trailer repaints Resolution as a love story. "How Resolution Will Help You Have Sex" is one of the most unspeakably brilliant promos I've ever come across. There's a topless scene, a bit with Michael ringing up his lawyer, a reel with a third character that wound up getting yanked from the final cut, and a "6 months later..." alternate ending. Just in case you get the wrong idea...? Yeah, they're all played for laughs. And how! I wish I knew how to put a wink or a thumbs-up right here.
- Audio Commentaries: The first of Resolution's three (!!!) commentary tracks pairs together filmmakers Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead. I had a blast with this commentary, which manages to be a hell of a lot of fun while still being genuinely informative. They speak about the budget they had to work with, the extended rehearsal and prep time they had on-hand, how not nearly as much of the dialogue was improvised as you might think, and even a little waxing philosophical about lighting. If that's not your thing so much, Benson and Moorhead also chat about everyone and everything getting tased repeatedly, an actual millenial cult that had set up shop across the river, how they wound up with this unfinished cabin, a rat-apple prop, and even a nod to Garth Ennis' Preacher comics. I love just about every last one of the extras on this disc, but this commentary might be my single favorite of the bunch. Okay, now let's mosey on over to the less great stuff...
Benson and Moorhead pop up again for the cast and crew commentary. They're joined here by leads Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran, and it's...yeah, pretty much wall-to-wall chaos. The four of 'em (maybe more; they don't do proper introductions)
talkshout all over each other, and there are lots and lots of loud, lawyer-y beeps. If you're looking for sterling insight into the craft of filmmaking or whatever, you might wanna steer clear. You do get to hear about jerking off in a children's summer camp and a little bit of chatter about how much they dug The Cabin in the Woods, so there's that...? I really do go for fun commentaries, but this one's kind of unlistenable. Oh, and speaking of unlistenable...! Resolution's third commentary is with Carmel the Dog, and it's pretty much just barking and growling followed by smirkingly pretentious commentary by the filmmakers about their influences and stuff. Quippy, clever, but not something I can really listen to for an hour and a half straight.
- Trailers (3 min.): Rounding out the extras are a teaser and a theatrical trailer.
If you missed it earlier, Resolution gets the combo pack treatment and features an anamorphic widescreen DVD as well.
The Final Word
Resolution is the most singularly perfect film I've experienced this year. It's so unique, bounding back and forth between numerous different tones and genres. It's funny, it's creepy, it's horrifying, and it's emotionally resonant. This is a horror movie that shrugs off jump scares or booming stings in the score; hell, it doesn't bother with a score at all. Resolution is a masterfully acted character piece that refuses to settle for any of the usual clichés. At no point does this feel like a retread of a movie I've already seen. Resolution is far and away the most rewarding cinematic discovery of 2013 for me. I'd have enthusiastically recommended this Blu-ray disc no matter what, but a very reasonable sticker price and an extensive slate of extras propel it to essential viewing. Very, very Highly Recommended.