Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Tenant

***DISCLAIMER*** The following review is entirely my opinion. If you comment (which I encourage you to do) be respectful. If you don't agree with my opinion, that's fine. To each their own. These reviews are not meant to be statements of facts or endorsements, I am just sharing my opinions and my perspective when watching the film and is not meant to reflect how these films should be viewed. Finally, the reviews are given on a scale of 0-5. 0, of course, being unwatchable. 1, being terrible. 2, being not great. 3, being okay. 4, being great and 5, being epic! And if you enjoy these reviews feel free to share them and follow the blog or follow me on Twitter (@RevRonster) for links to my reviews and the occasional live-Tweet session of the movie I'm watching! A person committed suicide in my apartment and all I got was a ghost that never stops crying.

The Tenant – 4 out of 5

A year ago, my girlfriend and I attended a screening of Army of Darkness that was hosted by the King himself; Bruce Campbell. After the film, the man with the golden chin hosted a Q&A session and, after having to endure a nonstop barrage of fans wasting their moment to ask the man a genuine question and, instead, puked out their stupidity (that was immediate struck down by Campbell’s quick wit), one person finally asked a legit question and asked what his favorite horror film was. Bruce instantly lit up and stated Roman Polanski’s film The Tenant. He gushed that the film has a terrific build up and was just a fantastic film. Since I always take recommendations—even if they technically aren’t recommendations but just a statement from an actor that I enjoy—I immediately sought out a copy of the film…and then forgot about it. Eventually, I found the movie around my house and I said, “Oh yeah, Ash’s favorite horror movie,” and I popped it in…and was surprised by the results.

It's like Rear Window...but, at one point, there's a mummy.

Trelkovsky (Roman Polanski) finds an apartment that has recently been vacated thanks to the previous tenant committing suicide. In desperate need of a place to call home, Trelkovsky starts wheeling-and-dealing with the landlord and eventually settles with getting a claim on the pad. Other than the fact he is now living in the place that will now include “Last Tenant Committed Suicide” in its Craigslist ad, there’s a communal bathroom in the building and, if that doesn’t add fuel to your apartment nightmares, then you have never had the experience of living in a dorm. Then things get worse when Trelkovsky notices his apartment overlooks the bathroom and he can see everyone doing their business. 

With glasses that big, Stella should have seen her friend
was having some troubles that would have led to her
attempting suicide.
After moving in, Trelkovsky visits the previous tenant (who is still clinging to life in the hospital) and meets the woman’s friend; Stella (Isabelle Adjani). Not long after these events, Trelkovsky’s life starts to slowly make a turn for the weird as he feels he’s being bullied by some of the other tenants in the building, the landlord becomes increasingly frustrated with him for having friends over and, supposedly, women over to visit, he starts to take on the daily routine of the previous tenant and starts to see other tenants in the bathroom standing around not doing their business (like, literally, just standing in there). Paranoia quickly starts to fester and consume the man and he starts to lose his grip on reality and believe that all the others in the building are involved in some sort of plot to get him to kill himself like the previous occupant.

Was it the other tenants or Trelkovsky's friends that were the ones out to
get him?  I don't fully trust either of these men.

I’ll be honest; it took some time for me to get into the film. Shit, I was bored with the first half because it just felt like it wasn’t going anywhere and was building towards nothing. At this point, a fan who stumbles upon this review is probably getting angry and wanted to comment about how I’m an asshole with no real attention span and I will partially agree with that. While I don’t mind films taking slow and methodical approaches towards their build-up, this movie just felt like there was no build up to terror or scares or even some What the Fucks. However, I was completely wrong as the film at one point just ramps up the insanity and Trelkovsky’s spin into lunacy. It was at that point that I realized why this slow build up was needed. It really just helps you realize and understand how crazy Trelkovsky goes and seeing him jump from a kinda socially awkward quiet guy to someone who looks like he’s on the verge of rubbing his own feces on the windows because the demons told him to do it really made for something addicting to watch. Once Trelkovsky’s mind snaps, I was hooked and couldn’t take my eyes away from the screen.

Yes, couldn't take my eyes off the screen...even when those pale limbs showed up.

Roman Polanski is a pretty shitty person (rape is a terrible thing, Polanski), but he has a reputation of producing some fantastic films (Seriously, how awesome is Rosemary’s Baby?). However, his shittiness aside (which could have easily jaded my viewing of this film), the way he put together The Tenant and his own acting as the lead was awe-inspiring. The aspect I enjoyed the most was the seamless nature of Trelkovsky’s breakdown. While Polanski is doing a tremendous job with the performance, he also delivered visuals that really showed how the man’s world is currently being flipped upside down. Whether it be the skewed perspective the hallway in his building suddenly takes or the fact that a chair resting next to his bed suddenly turns into a two dimensional illusion, Polanski delivered a film that feels weird but realistically weird…if that makes sense.

Yes, just another reminder, Polanski raped a 13 year old girl.

Trelkovsky really got into his cross-dressing...he just
started bleeding from the wrong orafice.
It’s easy to make something look bat-shit insane—just ask David Lynch—and sometimes the extremely over-the-top style can be fun—just ask Tim Burton’s early career. However, Polanski delivered a film that was totally fucked up in the end but wasn’t too stylish or cartoony. This resulted in Trelkovsky’s breakdown looking and feeling real and giving an argument that maybe the dude isn’t insane and his paranoia might be real. This was emphasized thanks to that methodical, and seemingly pointless, build up that, at first, bored me. It was actually quite brilliant! The beginning of the film is of a man who really is of no consequence and then *SNAP* his mind starts to slip and you get to see a guy flip out but also seem like he’s in control. You still see that man at the beginning hiding behind the dude who starts to cross dress and hallucinate that his neighbors are playing catch with his decapitated head outside. That’s a hard balance to keep—not only from an acting perspective but from a filmmaking perspective but Polanski’s visuals and his performance really kept himself from falling over to one side or the other on this knife’s edge.

Wacky hallways aren't normal...but on LSD they are, and they're kinda fun.

While I will freely admit that the beginning of the film was hard for me to get engrossed it, I’m glad I got through it because once you hit the strange shit, the dry and monotonous opening feels so important for establishing a baseline for the levels of nuts Trelkovsky’s mind hits. I wish I would have found out about this movie awhile ago but, sometimes, late is better than never. With Polanski’s work both behind and in front of the camera, The Tenant proved to be a film that, while not exactly scary or spooky to me, was definitely incredibly interesting and attention grabbing.

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