Monday, October 30, 2006

The Tenant (Le Locataire)

--Reviewed by Lindy Loo

Plotline: A quiet fellow, desperate to find himself an apartment, rents out a space where the previous tenant recently committed suicide. He quickly finds that the other tenants in the building are a strange bunch, fanatical about noise and each strange in their own way. As he finds himself having run-ins with them more and more frequently, he begins to suspect that they are trying to drive him to suicide as well.

Scariness factor: This isn't a "jump in your seat" kind of movie, but it definitely is psychologically creepy. Polanski is really damn good with that kinda stuff.

Gross-Out Factor: Relatively minimal--a bit of bloody grossness here and there, but nothing major.

Complaints: I am hard-pressed to find any.

High Points: This is a little gem along the lines of Polanski's Repulsion, and I'll be damned if Polanski isn't brilliant when it comes to psychological horror and cinematizing his preoccupation with paranoia. Like both Repulsion and Rosemary's Baby (both of which are considered horror flicks but verge more towards psychological drama than stereotypical horror), it could be argued that this movie isn't so much horror as it is drama or suspense. But I think that's where the strength of all three movies lies--in the fact that they can't be pigeon-holed into the horror genre, that they are strong enough to hold their own in the world of drama and suspense as well. Granted, if you're going in for Texas Chain Saw Massacre-type hopes or slasher-film desires, you'll be disappointed. But if you go in knowing that it's more of a psychological horror film, I think you'll definitely come out a happy camper at the other end. This is definitely one of the best suspense movies I've seen in the past year--quality acting and damn good directing and cinematography. Polanski captures paranoia and madness like few others in film--just the way he plays with the camera, persepective, point of view, etc. is absolutely fantastic. The Tenant most definitely succeeds in its quest to be unsettling and disorienting. The story is a strange and quiet one, but it has enough force to keep you going and wanting to figure out just wtf is going on. The lead actor is absolutely fantastic as well (holy crap--I am embarassed to say that I only just realized the lead actor was Polanski himself--you go, girl!)--he plays his character understatedly enough that the end is 100% feasible and believable. If you've seen both Rosemary's Baby and Repulsion and enjoyed the two, this is a definite must-see--coupled with the other two films, it book-ends a thematic trilogy of sorts. And the theme is sweet sweet Polanski-esque paranoia.

Overall: This is damn good stuff. Perhaps my favorite horror movie I've seen all year, though again, don't go in expecting slasher-paced horror or you'll be sorely disappointed.

Grade: A+

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