Review: ‘Resolution’ Keeps Tension and Humor Equally in Focus, Mostly

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Resolution has been making the festival rounds for a short while now, and it’s left a strong mark as a smart horror film. Comparisons to the higher profile Cabin In the Woods are frequent, but the two actually share little in common aside from their desire to break away from the genre template.

Granted, most of the action here does take place in a cabin in the woods… But the events that transpire differ wildly. Instead of the expected archetypes, our leads are simply two old friends reunited by loyalty, compassion and something that oozes evil from every possible pore (or whatever the evil equivalent of pores are).


A few stragglers get offed.


Not a lot of physical ills here, but there’s some definite creepiness running throughout.


It’s a veritable sausage-fest.


Drug addicts are lost causes. Especially when they’re hanging out in otherwise deserted cabins in the middle of sacred Native American land.

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“Do you know why Jimi Hendrix died? He didn’t have Mike Danube and a set of handcuffs to save his life.”

Mike (Peter Cilella) leads a normal life in suburbia with a wife and a mortgage, but when he gets an email from his crazy, meth-addicted friend Chris (Vinny Curran), complete with nutty as hell video attachment, he feels compelled to step in and help. He packs for a weekend intervention and heads out to Chris’ cabin in the woods, where he confronts his friend and promptly handcuffs him to a pipe.

Tough love is the order of the day, but as Mike kills time while Chris sleeps it all off he discovers some weird and creepy details about this particular plot of land. Along the way, he meets some rough druggie types, a trio of cult-like religious guys chilling by a stream and some very angry Native Americans, and to cap it all off he also discovers an increasingly suspicious series of images. The pictures and eventually video footage tell a story, one that Mike and Chris soon become characters within, and there’s little guarantee of a happy ending.

Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead know exactly what they’re doing here, and a lack of budgetary funds is no real obstacle when it comes to the story they want to tell. The script (written by Benson) shapes events nicely, building both a humorous tone and an escalating tension alongside each other. The threats build as each new element is introduced, and viewers are left constantly shifting their suspicions and expectations. The violent drug dealers are bad enough, but they’re trumped by the uneasy vibe coming off the religious nuts who are promptly ousted by the inference of Native American curses. What’s real and what’s misdirection is all part of the fun.

What truly helps the film stand apart from other low-budget horror efforts, though, are the two lead performances. Cilella and Curran have a natural way about them that defines their characters’ friendly and humorous relationship. Their interactions feel real and lived-in, and their mutual concern seems equally legitimate. This kind of believability goes a long way, especially once the weirdness ratchets up several more notches.

Less effective, and somewhat detrimental, though, are the pacing and the film’s ending. Parts of the second act drag somewhat with Chris secured and Mike wandering. The tone wavers when the two aren’t together, and the film’s focus becomes less clear. And the ending, while inevitable in some respects, isn’t wholly satisfying. That may be the sole area where the budget was truly detrimental.

Resolution won’t leave you floored or mouthing “wow” once the credits roll, but it should leave you impressed with its fresh and interesting take on well-worn ground. The mystery and tension that builds pairs nicely with characters we come to enjoy, and even if the destination underwhelms the journey is still one worth taking.


Resolution is now in limited theatrical release and available On Demand

Rob is the Chief Film Critic of Film School Rejects. He doesn't eat cheese on weekdays.

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