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Tribeca 2012: Resolution

The 2012 Tribeca Film Festival runs from April 18th to April 29th. Jeff Hart and Jeremiah White are there and will be seeing a shitload of movies.

My favorite part of any film festival – hell, my favorite part of spending a lot of time watching movies – is discovering cinematic oddities like Resolution. It’s a daring feat of genre weirdness made by a bunch of nobodies (two feature credits combined between the two directors and two leads). That it’s possible to stumble across a flick like Resolution that’s so fresh and energetic is what I’ll keep reminding myself to maintain sanity during the coming crush of summer mindlessness.

A disturbing video pops up in Michael’s (Peter Cilella) inbox. In it, his former best friend Chris (Vinny Curran), once a normal dude but now an out of control crackhead, rambles nonsensically and fires off guns in the woods. The video comes with a map to Chris’s latest woodland squat and Michael assumes it’s a cry for help. Michael drives into the wilderness to bring Chris to rehab if he’ll come willingly, or to handcuff him to a pipe and make him go cold turkey if he won’t. Guess which plan he goes with? However, once the seven day drying out period has started, strange messages begin appearing around the cabin, and Michael slowly realizes it wasn’t Chris that summoned him to the middle of nowhere.

The psychological game of cat-and-mouse between junkie and vigilante rehabilitator is the basis of a really solid thriller. Resolution nails the interplay between the two leads; Cilella and Curran have good chemistry, they actually seem like old friends. Their interactions run the gamut of hilarious to heartbreaking, and while Curran can sometimes go over the top with his “I want crack!” jokes (it doesn’t help that he’s a dead-on sound-alike for Charlie Day), Cilella is an able straight man that always keeps things grounded.

Resolution could’ve been just a buddy flick with thriller overtones, a story of addiction and the fine line between being a good friend and being a self-serving control freak. Writer/director Justin Benson and co-director Aaron Moorhead nail all that. However, they’ve also made themselves a full-fledged horror film by setting their relationship drama on a freaking hellmouth.

The woods outside Chris’s crack den are an ominous place, filled with ruined structures and buried curiosities. They’re just over the border of an Indian reservation. There’s an insane asylum with a notorious escapee problem nearby. The woods are inhabited by wide-eyed religious zealots, French scientists, and white trash gangsters. It sounds like a kitchen sink approach, but Benson and Moorhead evolve their creepy setting in a very natural way. The woods feel alive with surprises, but the weirdness never becomes overwhelming.

With threats both inside the cabin and outside, Resolution gleefully ratchets up the suspense. It’s a common fallback in indie horror – I’m calling it Blair Witch Syndrome – to confront the viewer with a bunch of spooky shit, and then cop out when it comes to an ending. Not with Resolution. Benson and Moorhead make the bold move of actually trying to explain what goes bump in the night. That the journey is more satisfying than the destination might prove to be the case for some viewers, but I thoroughly enjoyed Resolution’s breathless and bizarre climax.

I’d like to recommend Resolution as a must-see for a particular kind of horror fan, but it does such wonderfully strange things with the genre that I’m having trouble thinking of a film to compare it with. I’m not even sure horror is the best way to describe this thing. Mumblecore Lovecraft, maybe? Basically, if you’ve got any sense of curiosity for the macabre and don’t mind a bit of bro-banter to go along with it, you need to check this one out.

VERDICT:  See it.

Movie night at the crack den.

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