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Occupant (2011)

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Reviews: 32 user | 5 critic

25 year old Danny Hill's grandmother just died giving Danny the chance to move into her enormous rent controlled apartment in Manhattan. Danny must lock himself in for twelve days before he... See full summary »

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Title: Occupant (2011)

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25 year old Danny Hill's grandmother just died giving Danny the chance to move into her enormous rent controlled apartment in Manhattan. Danny must lock himself in for twelve days before he can take over the lease. There's just one problem -- he may not be the only occupant. Written by anonymous

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18 October 2011 (USA)  »

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Above average Polanski-like homage, but Hansis isn't really up to the task
24 October 2011 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

"Occupant" has one of the nicest, most believable set-ups of any recent urban thriller: Danny (Van Hansis) moves into his granny's (whom he's never met) rent-controlled Manhatten apartment (if you can call a 3500 sq ft space merely that) hoping to continue her $675 a month renting price, with the aide of an overly-friendly/sinister doorman (Thorston Kaye). The only glitch? To secure the place at the low-low figure, he only needs to barricade himself inside the plush joint long enough to lawyer up and win legal custody of the property.

Of course, this isn't as easy as it seems, as a series of eerie coincidences gradually convince Danny that someone's not exactly playing above board in their attempts to foist him out.

Henry Miller's latest film is much glossier than his previous outings, nicely shot, with some inventive camera angles. The story, by writer/producer Johnathan Brett, is engaging, if not rendered a bit campy sometimes with it's use of 250-point Helvetica fonts screaming DAY ONE, DAY TWO, etc.

The real weakness, I think, is the casting of Van Hansis --- a soap opera actor who looks a bit too Abercrombie to be mistaken for the average working-joe-farm-boy-come-to-the-big-city. He's not bad, really, his acting is just very one-note (as with many soap opera alumni, his range is either in the "super sincere" or "utterly hysterical" registers...they're either whispering or shouting).

Unfortunately, he doesn't do well with the latter. It appears Miller found that out, because the film tends to lapse into gimmicks like speed-frame, freeze-frame, and wipes particularly in the final scenes. It takes a lot of gravitas to pull off the kind of gut wrenching panic that's needed here, and Hansis just doesn't have it. This is a shame, because the film, overall, has a lot of unique touches going for it. It just needs an actor with a resume that's longer than his Facebook page to support it.


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