Best Horror Movies of the Decade: Resolution finds mystery in the search for an ending
All this month, we are counting down the 31 best horror movies of the decade and doing a closer look at why each one earned a spot on our list!
24. Resolution (dirs. Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, 2012)
Resolution premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April, 2012, only a week after The Cabin In The Woods hit theaters. The debut film by now festival darlings director duo Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead shares more than a little DNA with that bigger release, including being set in a literal cabin (ok, more of a decrepit tiny house) in the woods. Both films also set out to deconstruct the tropes of horror and storytelling, as if the creators themselves are breaking the fourth wall just to tell you both how easy, how fun, and how unoriginal it can feel to make a horror movie.
Before Resolution ever broaches the subject, though, it is a poignant and funny story of a man trying to get his best friend clean off of meth and crack addiction. Receiving an e-mail with video attachments of Chris (Vinny Curran) doing drugs and firing guns in a remote, rural area of Southern California, the happily married and content Michael (Peter Cilella) decides to drive out to help his friend. Not long after he arrives, he starts pleading with Chris to go to rehab. When he refuses, he uses a taser to get him on the ground, and handcuffs him to an exposed pole on the wall. If he doesn't want to go to rehab, they're going to do it the hard way.
For quite a while, Resolution is a simple hangout movie where the stakes are subtly high. Michael and Chris' banter is often hilarious, as they interact authentically like the two childhood friends they are. It's hard to even imagine how the twists and story elevations of genre are going to insert themselves into the film- and that's precisely where the bizarre tension of Resolution starts to kick into high gear. As they kill time at the cabin and Michael wanders around the outskirts of the property (which happens to be on an Indian reservation), we find strange artifacts, dusty abandoned vinyl with coded messages, UFO cult members, angry drug dealers, caves that may or may not be used for Mexican Cartel drug trafficking, and escaped mental patients. There are so many ways this story could go, so many threads that could be pulled a bit further, to the extent that Michael and Chris start to wonder if there are forces beyond their control dictating their destiny. It's as if the naturalistic story we were living in is being invaded by the demands of genre–a Richard Linklater pic tensely fighting off a 90's Dimension film.
Perhaps Benson and Moorhead wanted to explore how we validate the existence of small stories in an industry that always demands something more familiar, and they wrote that into the story like Charlie Kaufmann in Adaptation. How we need structure and stories in order to make sense of the unknown, something as deeply existential as a loved one who doesn't mind killing himself with drugs. For the genre fan who has seen hundreds, thousands of stories that begin just like Resolution, there's a lot to enjoy here. As Scott Tobias, then of the AV Club, said in his 2013 review: "Resolution makes a clever appeal to viewers who have seen it all."
Resolution ended up being one of my favorite horror films of the decade because it stuck with me more than most others. Benson and Moorhead made me look internally as to answer the question of why I keep coming back to horror films, what exactly I am hoping to get out of them- and what that might reveal about me.