Like an indie analog to The Cabin In The Woods—and set, in fact, in a cabin in the woods—the meta-horror movie Resolution makes its own creative crisis the star, trying to make something original out of elements so hackneyed, the filmmakers can’t bear to reproduce them. What starts as the simple story of one friend trying to wean another off drugs by force becomes freighted, gimmick by ridiculous gimmick, a willfully absurd dogpile of horror-movie scare tactics—escapees from an asylum down the road, ominous old photographs and 8mm movies, webcam footage from an unseen camera. And the whole thing is set on an Indian reservation! That last element recalls Stanley Kubrick’s own seeming mockery of the genre in The Shining, in which an Indian burial ground adds more grim mythology to a hotel that has plenty already. Though its commentary is slight, Resolution makes a clever appeal to viewers who have seen it all.
Sacrificing what appears to be a contented, stable home life to help out a friend, Peter Cilella heads out to a remote, GPS-and-cell-phone-killing area in the middle of a wooded area known for meth-heads. One of those meth-heads is his hirsute buddy Vinny Curran, who’s squatting in a half-finished home where he smokes crystal and shoots at birds off the front porch. If the two ever had anything in common, that time has long passed, but Cilella, determined to get Curran to quit the habit, takes the radical step of handcuffing him to a pipe until he goes clean. But soon, the two face much bigger problems than Curran’s addiction: His dealers want the remainder of his stash, the Native American who owns the house wants to evict them, and there are signs everywhere that some larger, perhaps supernatural force is at play.
Directed by Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead, from a screenplay by Benson, Resolution gets further in its conceit than its execution, which is full of tension-free longueurs and dialogue artlessly punctuated by profanity. Yet the steady accumulation of WTF developments carries a lot of intrigue over what all these disparate clues mean, or whether they’re even supposed to add up to something. Benson and Moorhead have made a horror film for jaded aficionados, deconstructing and reconstructing tired elements into a gnarled, distinctive Frankenstein’s monster. This monster might ransack a village, but it would have to think about it first.