September 7, 2011

DVD Review: The Tenant (2010)

This is a good example of a movie that does not know what it wants to be. It certainly had the potential to be an entertaining horror romp, but while it has a few things going for it, the end result is a movie with am unresolved identity crisis. The Tenant doesn't exactly have an enticing name and after seeing the movie, they probably could have come up with something a little snappier than borrowing the name of an old Roman Polanski feature. I am not sure what I would have called it, but even considering the misalign nature of the production, The Tenant seems like a rather droll title for such a potentially exciting horror outing.

The Tenant is not the worst horror film I have seen recently, that title falls on a little piece of big screen cinema called Shark Night 3D. However, it is disappointing, this coming from someone who did not exactly have high expectations in the first place. The tale plays the line between psychological creeper and creature feature gore fest. In many ways it reminds me of a movie I reviewed earlier this year, The Frankenstein Syndrome. That was also a B movie that integrated the psychological with the gory. It was quite an entertaining excursion that was a low budget feature to be sure, but it also integrated the two sides of the story rather nicely.

The way The Tenant goes about things, you would think it was two different movies. This schizophrenic feel ultimately derails the narrative. The supposed prologue segment drags on for nearly the first half, setting up our backstory before takin a jump ahead in time where it turns into a Hatchet-esque gore drenched survival tale.

We open with a couple sneaking around an old boarded up house, talking aout an old woman who visits every other day. They plan to sneak inside when she unlocks he door. Why? Why else? They need some teenaged alone time. Things don't work out too well for them. This pre-prologue prologue leads us to the past, where the story really begins to take shape.

Dr. Newman (Randy Molnar) runs an asylum where he secretly works on genetic experiments to cure diseases. He uses his patients as guinea pigs and plays with severed heads gotten from the local morgue (delivered by Bill Cobbs, whose instantly recognizable appearance would seem to be an attempt at credibility for the feature). His pregnant wife has a different perspective on his work and urges him to quit. His rather creepy and determined nurse goes behind his back to keep the experiment going. This results in the doctor's wife giving birth to twins. One is normal, the other deformed.

Jump ahead a quarter century, the asylum is abandoned and boarded up and everyone is presumed dead. A group on a field trip for deaf teens they run into a storm and seek shelter in the old asylum building. As you can probably guess, the deformed baby is still there, only grown up and ready to kill. This is where it becomes a bloody game of survival as those in the house e picked off one by one until the inevitable twist.

The characters are all pretty bland and unremarkable. I am pretty sure hey got names, but danged if I cannot recall what they are. I guess it doesn't matter as none really stay for a long time nor have anything much to say.

If somehow they were able to marry the atmosphere of the first half with the blood of the second this would have been more interesting. As it stands the opening stuff about the experiments drags on too long in light of the second half of the movie and the second half feels rushed and seriously lacking in development due to the time taken up by the opening.

I wonder what he were thinking of when they fused these two half movies into the creature that it is. The doctor half showed a lot of potential of giving us a slightly ore the top psychological burn as the wife/nurse rivalry took shape with the doctor caught in the middle, not to mention the criminally underused Michael Berryman as one of the inmates. The monster half was interesting as well, even if it underused the fact that some of the victims were deaf. I did feature some very nicely executed practical ore effects.

The movie jus feels like it was patched together from two different and quite incomplete scripts. In an effort to make a movie the two halves were stitched together to create a mismatched whole that could get made. Whatever the case is, the end result is somewhat watchable but nothing that I could ever call good.

Audio/Video. The video is presented in a 2.35:1 ratio and it looks all right, for the most part. You will not confuse this for a major Hollywood release, but that is not meant as a knock against the movie. The colors are all consistent and there is no evidence of artifacts or DNR. The movie is lit rather flatly, this does not help the overall drab look, but it is far from the worst I have ever seen. The transfer is just unremarkable. The same can be said for the Dolby 2.0 and 5.1 audio tracks. It does the job but is pretty unremarkable. The sound mix is workmanlike in execution, delivering everything crisply and clearly, but never doing anything to make it stand out from the crowd.

  • Behind the Scenes. A short featurette that is filled with interviews with the director and the producer and talks about the performances, make up, and other aspects. They are accompanied by film clips and behind the scenes bits.
  • Blooper Reel. Standard collection of flubs and laughs.
  • Deleted Scenes. Three cut scenes of no major import.
  • Theatrical Trailer. The original trailer is included.
Bottomline. This could have been a lot better than it is. Still, as mediocre as it is, I still think it is worth giving a shot. If for nothing else you can see how there are seeds of something better, plus the nice makeup and gore effects. However, this is only for horror fans, all others need not apply.

Very Mildly Recommended.

Article first published as DVD Review: The Tenant (2010) on Blogcritics.
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