A scene from "Resolution." (Handout )
Horror movies can often be so rote in their mercenary trajectory to scare/shock/disgust that it's unnerving sometimes to encounter any different approach.
The simmering DIY oddity that is "Resolution," from co-directors Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, does just that, offering up a strangely tense and humorous meta-narrative about two friends experiencing weird goings-on at a remote cabin.
Level-headed Mike (Peter Cilella) has shown up alone and unannounced to force his paranoid, drug addict bestie Chris (Vinny Curran) to go cold turkey, handcuffing Chris so as to watch over him. There are angry junkies, wary Native Americans and UFO cultists in the area to contend with, but signs point to a more sinister omnipresence, one with designs on how this moment in the friends' lives will play out.
Rare is the chiller that treats unknown phenomena as a gateway toward enlightened characterizations — think Michael Haneke's "Cache" — but in its gently atmospheric camerawork and nicely underplayed moments between Mike and Chris, "Resolution" manages to keep its eerier moments surprising and its emotional life arresting.
The filmmakers certainly toy with the audience's natural desire to have a lurking threat explained, but they never give off the whiff of desperate manipulation.
"Resolution." No MPAA rating. Running time: 1 hour, 33 minutes. At Arena Cinema, Hollywood.