Movie review by LL Soares
RESOLUTION was the feature film debut of directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, who have since made the terrific movie SPRING (2014). In it, Michael Danube (Peter Ciella) receives a strange video of his old best friend, Chris Daniels (Vinny Curran). The video shows Chris, alone in the woods, talking to himself (and his dog) and shooting guns. Right off the bat, we have to wonder what is going on, because if Chris made this video and sent it to Mike, then who filmed it? There’s no clue in the correspondence, but clearly Chris seems rather lonely.
Mike heads out to a cabin in the woods using a map that was also provided in the email, and finds Chris on the front deck of his house, rambling incoherently and shooting at unseen “birds” that he says are bothering him. In fact, by going to the cabin, Mike is pretty much taking his life in his hands, since Chris’s behavior is so erratic. It doesn’t take long for Mike to figure out the cause of this strange behavior, since Chris is obsessed with his “pipe” and smoking meth.
Having just found out that his wife is pregnant, Mike takes it upon himself to do something good in the world – getting Chris cleaned up, and that is the central focus of RESOLUTION. Not long after he arrives, Mike handcuffs Chris to a pipe in the wall and makes it clear that he is not leaving for seven days, the time it will take to get Chris off drugs using the “cold turkey” method. Mike says that after this period of time, he will take Chris to rehab, if he wants to go. If not, he’ll leave, and never come back.
Chris is furious at first about being chained up, of course, but slowly goes through various phases, from trying to convince Mike that he’s okay, to threatening him, to agreeing with him. While this is going on, they get a few visitors. These include Micah and Ted (Skyler Meacham and Josh Higgins), two guys that Chris and Mike went to high school with, who are now hillbilly drug dealers. They come by looking for some drugs they left behind, and when Chris answers the door (with a baseball bat) to say Chris can’t see them, they get angry and threaten him. They soon leave, though, when another group shows up, led by Charles (Zahn McClarnon), men from the nearby Indian reservation. Charles says that owns the cabin they’re staying in, and that he wants them off his property – or else! It turns out that Chris has been squatting all along.
Mike makes a deal with Charles to pay him so they can stay until the cold turkey process is over, and they arrange to meet later outside a casino where Charles works. At that point, Charles agrees to let them stay in the house, but they have to be out by the end of the week.
During his stay, Mike leaves the cabin several times to go on walks, and he finds weird stuff along the way. These include some vinyl records at a weird stone fireplace in the middle of nowhere; film equipment in a shack out in back of the cabin; weird young men wearing business shirts and ties who claim to be taking “a break from praying” while they smoke cigarettes in the woods; and a weird cave with primitive drawings on the wall, and a surprise occupant inside.
Clues point to French students who had stayed at this location decades before (a Frenchman, claiming to have been their archeology professor, still lives in a trailer far from civilization). As the story goes on, Mike finds other weird objects, including what looks like an old videotape, that shows that someone has been filming Mike and Chris now — during their time together in the cabin. In fact, videos of them start showing up on Mike’s computer as well. Who the hell is filming/watching them? And where are all of these weird videos and recordings coming from?
RESOLUTION is a very interesting film, but not everything makes a lot of sense. For one thing, Mike seems to have a delayed reaction when it comes to weird happenings. At first, when he finds weird objects or meets oddball people, he has little or no reaction to what’s going on. When the drug dealers come to the house and threaten to kill him and Chris, he doesn’t seem very concerned, even going for a walk alone in the woods soon after they’ve left. It’s not until much later in the film that he actually seems disturbed by all these goings-on.
Meanwhile, Vinny Curran plays it way over the top at first as the drug-addled Chris at first, but as the story goes on, he becomes more lucid and sympathetic. There are moments when the banter between the two old friends seems real, and those are the best moments of the movie. These two guys play off each other very well.
Things get pretty screwy by the end, and the very last scene actually brings up more questions than answers, but I thought RESOLUTION was an impressive debut by Benson and Moorhead. It doesn’t really give you much of a clue about how great their next film, SPRING, will be (what a huge leap forward!). Also, some of the characters from this movie (including Chris and Mike) will pop again in Benson and Moorhead’s most recent film, THE ENDLESS (2017), which I plan to review later.
Benson and Moorhead are two directors who are headed for great things. And RESOLUTION just reveals that right off the bat, with their first feature, they showed us how much damn potential they had.
I look forward to everything they do in the future.
© Copyright 2018 by LL Soares