|Written by||Justin Benson|
|Cinematography||Aaron Scott Moorhead|
Resolution is a 2012 American horror film directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, written by Benson, and starring Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran. Cilella plays a professional from the city who goes back to his hometown to save his junkie friend, played by Curran. The 2017 film The Endless shares the same creative universe as Resolution, and may be interpreted as a partial sequel.
Michael Danube, a professional graphic designer who lives in the city with his wife, receives an email that contains a video of Chris Daniels, his former best friend. Chris has become a junkie, retreated to a remote rural area, and his behavior is delusional and erratic. A map is included with the video. Despite the objections of his wife, Michael decides to make one last attempt to save his friend from drug addiction. Michael promises to return after one week and follows the map to a run-down house, where he hears Chris ranting and shooting a pistol. Michael cautiously approaches the house and announces himself. Chris reacts positively and invites him in, ranting about various subjects. Michael tries to convince Chris to go to rehab, but Chris refuses. Michael uses a stun gun to stun Chris and handcuffs him to a pipe. When Michael returns from a shopping trip, he sees Chris trying to cut through his handcuff with a toothbrush. In the morning, Michael uses the stun gun again to stave off an attempted attack by Chris.
Later, Micah and Billy show up and tell Michael that Chris is holding their drugs, which they want back. Chris warns Michael not to mess with them, as they have become more violent and unpredictable since Michael last knew them. Michael takes a walk and meets members of a UFO religion, then returns to the house and finds a set of strange photographs. Micah and Billy return, but they are scared off by Charles, a tribal security guard who tells Michael that Chris is squatting on reservation land. Michael bribes him to allow them to stay there for five days. Michael then finds creepy film footage, and Chris tells Michael that he never sent any emails or videos. Michael finds a book full of creepy campfire stories on their doorstep, and, when he returns the book to the library, finds film slides. Confused by the items that seem purposefully left for them to find, Michael suggests that it's a prank by Billy and Micah, but Chris dismisses the idea as irrelevant.
Michael continues to find conspicuous clues strewn about the area. When he bribes Charles for information, Charles warns him off and tells him that French students used the area for research. They encounter a con man who offers to buy the house, but he leaves after Michael reveals that they are only renting. When Michael rewatches the video he received in the e-mail, the video has changed: it now shows an argument that Michael and Chris just had moments before, over whether they should have made a deal with the con man. When Billy and Micah return, they kill the dog that Chris has adopted, and Chris reveals that he is suicidal. Michael tracks down the dog's original owner, an archeologist named Byron who was a member of the original French research team at the site. Byron believes the area is not haunted; instead, something there desires stories. Byron stresses the need for a beginning, middle, and end. Alarmed by Byron's eccentricity, Michael leaves and returns to the house.
As more ostentatious clues suddenly appear from nowhere, the film projector Michael has been using to watch some of the found film footage now reveals the gruesome death and funeral photos of Michael and Chris. Michael's laptop suddenly plays a video that depicts their own violent deaths at the hands of Micah and Billy. Confused and scared, they flee the house, only to find a compact disc that has a recording of Charles murdering them and burning down the house. Chris insists that they leave the property immediately, but Michael does not want to bring the curse home with him; instead, he wants to attempt to appease the entity. When Chris and Michael return to the house, they witness Charles murdering Micah and Billy before setting the house on fire. Chris and Michael panic after witnessing the murder of their counterparts, with Chris breaking down and finally agreeing to go to drug rehab. Their joy over achieving a happy ending to their story is abruptly cut short when the entity angrily confronts them; Chris apologizes profusely, and Michael asks the entity, "Can we try it another way?" The only reply he gets is an explosive roar from the creature as the camera cuts to black.
- Peter Cilella as Michael Danube
- Vinny Curran as Chris Daniels
- Zahn McClarnon as Charles
- Bill Oberst Jr. as Byron
- Kurt David Anderson as Billy
- Skyler Meacham as Micah
- Justin Benson as Justin, UFO Cult Member
- Aaron Scott Moorhead as Aaron, UFO Cult Member
Although the film is often described as "genre-bending", this was not an intentional concept; it was always meant as a horror film about an unseen antagonist that manipulates reality to create interesting stories. The detox plotline was introduced to give the story more structure, as the directors needed a plot device to have the story unfold over seven days. The script was written in six months. The main parts of the film were shot in 17 days, but the side plots were shot over the course of several months on weekends. The directors were specifically interested in avoiding overt homage, and, instead, focused on parodying independent film tropes. The film was shot in East County, San Diego. The directors have no direct experience with detox; to perform research, they searched Google for information. Benson was acquainted with a crack addict, however, and he used some of the addict's ramblings as inspiration for Chris' dialog.
Resolution had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival April 20, 2012. Tribeca Film gave the film an initial limited theatrical release on January 25, 2013. Cinedigm and Tribeca Film released Resolution on DVD, Blu-ray, and video-on-demand October 8, 2013.
Rotten Tomatoes, a review aggregator, reports that Resolution received positive reviews from 100% of 9 critics surveyed; the average rating was 7.6/10. Metacritic scored it 80/100 based on 5 reviews, which indicates "generally favorable reviews". Mark Adams of Screen Daily called it "a clever, twisted and very impressive slow-burner of a chiller". Rod Lott of the Oklahoma Gazette called it suspenseful and singled out the last 20 minutes as "seriously unnerving." Jason Jenkins of Dread Central rated the film 4.5/5 stars and wrote, "With its great cast, unique concept, and its sharply written script, Resolution is one of the very best films I’ve seen this year." Peter Gutierrez of Twitch Film said that the film has a "quietly mythic power" and takes many big risks that pay off. Adam Tyner of DVD Talk rated the film 5/5 stars and wrote, "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."
Michael Nazarewycz of DVD Verdict said that Resolution is "a very good film" that gives new life to old tropes. Dennis Harvey of Variety wrote, "There are long buildups, and then there's Resolution, a movie that's virtually all nothing-much-happening setup until a still-teasing titular event that occupies just a few final seconds." Lonnie Nadler of Bloody Disgusting rated the film 4/5 stars and wrote that it "delivers a dashingly intelligent commentary on the horror genre, the nature of cinema, and the relationship viewers have to on-screen victims." Serena Whitney of Dread Central rated the film 5/5 stars and called it "a remarkable achievement" and "an inventive, character-based story" that "provides be the breath of fresh air the genre sorely needs". Robert Abele of the Los Angeles Times wrote that it offers "a strangely tense and humorous meta-narrative" that "manages to keep its eerier moments surprising and its emotional life arresting."
Many reviews compared it to The Cabin in the Woods. SFX rated it 3.5/5 stars and described it as "clever, creepy meta-horror" that is like a lo-fi version of The Cabin in the Woods. Kurt Halfyard of Twitch Film wrote, "Unlike the smug, offhand silliness of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's Cabin in the Woods, this one makes you give a damn; as much about the films building Lost-type puzzlebox, but moreso the two exceptionally well realized characters." Scott Weinberg of Fearnet called the film "a smart and subversive take" that is less entertaining than Cabin in the Woods. Nick Schager of The Village Voice wrote that it puts Cabin the Woods "to shame on a fraction of the budget". Ian Buckwalter of NPR wrote, "Resolution is really a less self-conscious cousin to last year's Cabin in the Woods; both are hugely satisfying exercises in examining the way in which stories are told." Scott Tobias of The A.V. Club rated it B and called it "an indie analog to The Cabin In The Woods" that "gets further in its conceit than its execution".
At Macabro 2013, the directors were awarded Best Director. At the Toronto After Dark Film Festival, the film won four awards, including best screenplay and most innovative film. The directors won Best Director at the 2013 Fantastic Planet film festival.
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