Resolution Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead

Resolution Justin Benson & Aaron Moorhead
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With creative young filmmakers like Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead proving that there's plenty of fertile soil left in the genre, there's always a reason to go back into the woods.

Resolution is the quiet, thoughtful, character-driven spiritual cousin of Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard's affectionate castigation of horror tropes, The Cabin in the Woods. At their cores, both films are about the burning thirst people have for bloodthirsty voyeurism in the stories we tell to make sense of the unknown.

Among the chief differences between these two excellent films though is that Cabin is, first and foremost, a comedy with delectable mystery and horror elements, while Resolution is a very specific, pointed drama with a sly, naturalistic sense of humour built upon relatable characters with a mystery that carefully constructs a sense of insidious dread rather than relying on grand reveals.

Deftly playing with genre expectations from the get-go, the film opens with grainy footage of a gun-toting guy loosing his shit in the woods. Pulling back, the video is being watched on a laptop and the larger picture is being shot in the cinematic fidelity viewers are accustomed to.

Michael (Peter Cilella), who received the footage via email, has a brief conversation with his wife, the implications of which aren't expressly clear until he arrives at a remote cabin in the next scene. He's greeted by gunfire and the ravings of a paranoid maniac convinced that birds are stealing his stuff. This is Michael's best friend, Chris. Chris is a crack head. When he can't convince his mentally bent buddy to go with him to rehab, Michael decides that an extreme, Black Snake Moan-style intervention is in order, handcuffing Chris to the inside wall of the cabin to force a seven-day detox.

What follows is an acutely self-aware series of increasingly bizarre occurrences that plays puppet-master with audience expectations using a deep bag of horror cinema referencing. Rather than setting up something as literal as a basement full of genre iconography for our protagonists to pick their gristly fate from, writer Justin Benson organically introduces plot elements that make Resolution feel like a game of Russian roulette with story memes. Naming any directly would spoil part of the fun of discovery, but it's safe to say that this is a more psychological brand of horror, referencing Michael Haneke and David Lynch as much as the likes of Tobe Hooper.

Benson and Moorhead achieve a hell of a lot on a small budget, making great use of very subtle and deliberate sound design to suggest psychological headspace instead of the emotional manipulation of traditional music scoring. The visual effects are similarly modest, but essential to the film's deeper mystery.

Beneath all of the playful subterfuge is a brutally honest, multifaceted story about the hypocrisy and inherent selfishness of people trying to exert control over the lives of others that also explores the appeal of seclusion and maturely addresses the reasons some very smart people become addicts.

Resolution is a rare gem that deserves to be seen by a wide audience, even though it's possibly a bit too clever for mass consumption. (Tribeca Film)