A young female doctor, newly sprung from a live-in relationship and
needing a her own place to live, lucks into what seems like the best deal
in New York City: an enormous apartment with a great view and a low price
tag. The pot is sweetened further by the fact that the landlord is
handsome, charming, and single. What could go wrong?
Plenty for her, and plenty for the film as well.
The film started off well. The script went to the trouble of
establishing multiple possible explanations for the strange goings-on in
the old apartment, while keeping us at first within the protagonist's POV.
Is the grandpa as creepy as he seems? Is the landlord not what he appears?
Is there something supernatural in the air? Or is the lady doctor simply paranoid about the very predictable failings
of an old building? It could have been an intriguing puzzle, but the
director almost immediately eliminated the "normal building, paranoid
with spooky and ham-fisted foreshadowing. The eerie music and the
meaningful glances told us that something was amiss. Then the screenwriter
yanked us out of the doctor's point of view, switched to omniscient
narration and turned over all the cards, thus eliminating all but one
The film employs an odd narrative structure. Although it is ostensibly
a mystery/thriller, it reveals all the secrets and draws back all the
curtains after only 30 minutes of running time, leaving no mystery of any
the remaining hour. You know how the Wild
Things movies always end with the whodunit being explained by revealing a
series of previous actions or schemes we had not been aware of? Well, this
film did exactly that, the ol' Wild Things revelation technique, except
that it did that at the 1/3 mark! After that first third of the film, the
viewer knows everything that had formerly been out of sight, and can guess
exactly what will happen from then on. The only part of the narrative
which remains unresolved is how long it will take the protagonist to find
out what we already know. That's kind of a shame because this might have
been a nifty little thriller if it could have kept its hole cards down.
This is a neo-Hammer film, part of that legendary studio's attempt at a
revival, and you know that they could have developed some atmosphere
because, in a nod to Hammer's storied past, the landlord's creepy old
grandpa is played by the studio's all-time greatest star, Christopher Lee.
Unfortunately, Lee has little to do, while the film turns out to be disappointing and more than a
If you choose to watch this film, I suspect your mind will be occupied
primarily with two questions: (1) How did Hammer get Hillary Swank,
two-time winner of the Best Actress Oscar, into a movie which could have
been made by the same studio in the 1970s, and if it had been, would have
played the drive-in circuit?; (2) How did they get the same muscular Ms.
Swank to spend the entire film in her underwear, especially since the sexy
scenes can't be justified by the artistic merit of this project? (The
actual nudity seems to have been done by body doubles.) It's not like
Swank habitually doffs her duds on screen, ala Kate Winslet. This is new
territory for her. And it's not like she's doing it for an Oscar, ala
Halle Berry, because the voyeur scenes in this film are made strictly for
audience titillation. If Swank has to take a role like this in the first
place, and take her clothes off as well in the process, even if a body
double was involved, it doesn't seem that she's getting the respect I
would presume to be accorded to multiple Oscar winners. Kate Hepburn was
about Swank's age after she won her Oscar for The Philadelphia Story, and
I don't remember her suddenly switching to cheapjack thrillers. Frankly,
I'm mystified by Swank's willingness to take this role.
Not that I mind. I might be mystified about why she would want to
appear in an exploitation film, mostly in her underwear, but I'm also
impressed by her credentials. The Swankstress has a spectacular figure.