United States. 93 minutes. Directed by Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead, 2012. Starring Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Zahn McClarnon, Bill Oberst Jr.
A desperate attempt by Mike (Peter Ciella) to force his buddy Chris (Vinny Curran) to kick a meth addiction leads to far stranger perils in writer/co-director Justin Benson and co-director Aaron Moorhead’s Resolution. Mike’s encounter with Chris’s eccentric friends and neighbors puts him onto the trail of a bizarre mystery–which only deepens when an outside force seems to start manipulating events to its own ends. Are these seemingly impossible occurrences real, or are they just a shared hallucination? More to the point, will the audience care?
Resolution appears to be the latest in a series of horror films that isn’t interested in explaining jack-shit to the audience and expects to be patted on its proverbial head for refusing to hold the viewer’s hand. In theory, that’s fine, as long as the filmmakers understand what does and doesn’t need to be explained. I wasn’t bugged that there was never an explanation as to whether all the weird stuff was real or not (although I don’t buy the “meth hallucination” theory because it’s Mike who observes most of it, and he’s never shown to use drugs other than alcohol). That’s fine.
What aren’t fine are a couple of other major problems. The first is in character development: I found it difficult to buy into either Mike or Chris. Mike’s self-righteousness (because the absolute best way to get your bestie off drugs is to chain him to a pipe for a week) and occasional foolishness (yes, giving alcohol to a detoxing drug addict is a capital idea!) make him hard to care about. Chris fares a bit better, chiefly due to a spirited performance on Curran’s part, and while he does great at being a belligerent asshole he’s not as good trying to deliver the heartfelt aspects of his character. Plus, it never seems like he’s actually suffering from withdrawal symptoms.
And then there’s the plot, which is so contrived that it feels less like a story and more like an old-style text adventure or point-and-click video game–at one point, I imagined “Achievement Unlocked!” captions appearing over Mike’s head whenever he was able to link clues hidden in places one wouldn’t ordinarily look. The previously mentioned character stupidity doesn’t help, and neither does the erratic editing (the chain of events leading to the point where the dog’s death is revealed to the audience is a great example of this).
Now, is it unreasonable to assume that whatever it is that’s manipulating events–for example, causing clues to literally fall out of the sky–is also manipulating the characters’ behavior? In other words, that the charactersI guess it’s possible. It’s also possible that the sinister trio of Native Americans is behind it all, or that Chris is secretly Yoko from Executive Koala in disguise. It’s a movie; anything’s possible. Is it likely? There’s not enough information given to even hazard a guess, and that’s the difference between what does and doesn’t need to be explained. Because without that, all you have is a bunch of people who behave like they’re adhering to a script. (In the filmmakers’ defense, the idea is floated that Mike, Chris and company are merely characters in a story. If they are, it’s not a very good one.)
And what makes it more infuriating are all the things that do work in this film. Curran is worth watching, as is Bill Oberst Jr. (Abraham Lincoln vs. Zombies) in a brief role. The atmosphere is top-notch and the basic premise has dramatic potential. But the flaws simply overwhelm the production. I don’t know, maybe I’m not getting the point. Or maybe Resolution really isn’t as thought-provoking as I’m supposed to think it is, and in the end is little more than a not-very-good horror movie.