Resolution (2012) Movie Review – 31 Days of Halloween 2023
A man imprisons his estranged junkie friend in an isolated cabin in the boonies of San Diego to force him through a week of sobriety, but the events of that week are being mysteriously manipulated.
Welcome to Knockout Horror. Can you believe it? It is October again. It feels like only yesterday that I put together our K-O-Ween 31 Days of Halloween 2022 feature. If you are anything like us, you are going to be spending your October watching a horror movie a day for the entire month in the lead up to Halloween. We are here to help you with that with our 31 Days of Halloween 2023 feature. We are kicking things off by reviewing Justin Benson’s Resolution from 2012.
It’s October and That Means One Thing – Horror
If you are unfamiliar with how this works, have no fear. It’s really pretty simple. Every day of October I will throw up a shorter format review of a movie I really like. There won’t be many new movies here. This is where I tend to catch up on reviews of older horror that I haven’t covered yet. We are a fairly new site, after all. I’ll try to keep it fresh and offer up something different from the other sites. Hopefully my list will introduce you to a few films you have maybe missed.
If you want a prepared list, why not check out my 31 Days of Halloween from last year? If you are looking for something a little more self contained and available on a free streaming service. How about taking a look at my Tubi 31 Days of Halloween feature? It’s a horror movie a day for the entirety of October all available completely free on Tubi. Without further ado, let’s kick Halloween off with an underrated indie horror gem – Resolution.
Unique and Quirky Horror
That’s the absolute best way that I can describe Resolution. A horror movie that is unlike many others I have watched and difficult to draw comparisons to. Following the story of a man basically kidnapping his best friend to force him to withdraw from drugs. Only to find that an external force appears to be manipulating the events around them. Resolution is a mix of tension, suspense, and a fair bit of subtle comedy.
The way that Resolution separates itself, however, is in its approach to horror and its pacing. This is a very slow movie. So slow, in fact, that it will probably lose a few viewers somewhere along the way. It probably wouldn’t be a huge stretch to describe it as Lo-Fi horror. A theme that will probably be fairly common in our 31 Days of Halloween feature. It is in no rush to terrify the person watching. Instead, it is keen to build up an intriguing mystery surrounding the characters and the world they inhabit. A world that is, seemingly, not quite as it seems.
A Story That Must Be Told
Resolution is a difficult movie to talk about while avoiding spoilers. The best way it can be described is as two characters finding themselves in the middle of a story that someone else is telling. The movie represents their journey to discovering that they are part of this story. With that in mind, it’s probably no surprise to hear that the movie is rather meta and self aware. It doesn’t offer the viewer a tremendous amount of exposition and isn’t overly keen on guiding the viewer through the events that are taking place.
There are multiple layers to the movie and Benson wants you to discover them for yourself. He doesn’t have much interest in directly showing them to you. Naturally this may lead to frustration on some viewer’s parts. But the journey is well worth sticking with as it remains legitimately interesting and captivating throughout. The drip feeding of new story elements playing out alongside the interpersonal drama between the two friends is entirely engaging.
It’s hard not to mention just how many risks Resolution takes. At times it would be easy to perceive the movie as laughing at its audience. It goes out of its way to expose horror tropes and almost makes a mockery of them. All while taking the very notion of story telling itself and turning it on its head. We, as viewers, are used to seeing a story play out with a cast of characters who are simply there to play a part. Resolution pokes fun at that but in the best way possible.
The characters are there to discover the story and do whatever they can to avoid allowing it to be written for them. All while never realising that they have no real say in the matter. At the same time, the movie makes us question the stories we write in life ourselves through our own experiences. And highlights the many ways in which they are changed by the people around us. All while asking us whether we are actually able to change our own story’s ending or has it already been written? Resolution works on many levels. Particularly in the way it brings the viewer in to the experience.
This is a movie that asks us what would we do if characters were pawns in a story we were telling. What would happen if we could manipulate the reality these characters exist inside of. The ultimate goal of all of this is to, seemingly, turn the viewer into the antagonist of the movie. We are the bad guys. Resolution points the finger at horror viewers who are quick to complain when movies don’t play out in the way that they expect. We have already decided a beginning, middle and end in our own minds. It just so happens to be that the characters aren’t aware of that. We are the ever looming monster watching over the events that take place and that is something I love about it.
Extremely Self Aware
As mentioned above, Resolution is entirely self aware and it’s this self awareness that allows it to break so many horror rules. The truth is, however, some people are simply not going to like this. Some people will be left feeling very unsatisfied. Particularly at the ending which is, ultimately, entirely conclusive but also somewhat open ended. Again, Resolution takes a number of risks and some viewers simply won’t appreciate the results. That’s completely understandable, though. This is a movie designed for a certain audience.
Pushing aside many of these more divisive elements. Resolution is a captivating story of two friends finding themselves, learning more about each other, and coming face to face with personal demons. It’s a very satisfying tale of self discovery and human drama. Despite featuring a presentation of horror that won’t be for everyone. It is extremely easy to relate to and enjoy. These characters are flawed but likable. They will make you laugh and you will likely enjoy the dialogue between them and the conversations that they have.
The characters here feel real, not simply horror movie cliches. Which makes the manipulation of their world all the more effective and believable. It also helps that Resolution manages to be legitimately tense in parts. The final 15 minutes or so really up the adrenaline and act as a fantastic pay off for the incredibly slow build up. There are moments there where you feel legitimately nervous for our protagonists and, honestly, quite unsettled. It’s in these moments that you realise that Resolution genuinely is a horror movie and that is what it was always meant to be.
Fantastic Acting and Direction
The majority of the movie focuses on extended moments of dialogue between the two main characters. With this in mind, it is very important that actors Peter Cilella and Vinny Curran are up to the task. Luckily they are with the acting being solid throughout. It’s obvious that Cilella and Curran were given ample time to develop some serious chemistry. With the relationship between the two feeling completely genuine. Curran’s rants make for some comical moments and he manages to bring a realism to the character that makes him easy to sympathise with. All in all, it’s a great job all around.
Director Justin Benson has been around the horror game for a little while now. Having started his career off acting in, producing and directing horror movies and shorts. In fact, he has had a hand in at least one of the movies we have covered on this site. He produced and starred in the very enjoyable After Midnight. He does a great job here teaming up with Aaron Moorhead.
Resolution never feels as low budget as it probably is and most of the shots are very well done. Moorhead’s cinematography is of particular note. Many of the shots are handheld and place the viewer in the cabin with the friends as almost a participant of the events taking place. This is, obviously, very deliberate given the themes of the movie. There are no major technical issues and the pacing is perfect given the slow horror style. Benson and Moorhead would follow Resolution up with The Endless which is equally as well regarded.
Final Thoughts and Score
Resolution isn’t going to be for everyone. It’s best to get that out of the way immediately. It is slow paced and takes a lot of risks as far as horror movies go. Resolution is very self aware and rather meta throughout. It is also very light on action and scares. For those with an affinity for slower, more considered, horror; Resolution is among the best.
The engaging story of two friends confronting personal demons while rediscovering themselves is captivating alone. But when combined with some genuinely unsettling moments, some palpable tension and a completely unique take on old horror tropes. Resolution stands out as one of the more memorable indie horror movies of recent years.