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By Steve Anderson | March 28, 2006

Okay, I’m gonna go out on a limb and say that Billy Parish is likely a big John Carpenter fan.

Why would I go out on this limb?

Because Billy Parish wrote, produced, directed, starred in, and edited a movie that is, when you stop and think about it, almost an homage to “The Thing.”

An assertion like that requires explanation.

“Resident Demon” is basically about a pair of sisters, one of whom went Satanic-ritual-nuts one day and started fooling around with human blood. Discovering what turns out to be really similar to that old Countess of Bathory concept, Tabitha (the ritually nuts sister) starts drinking and bathing in blood to keep herself immortal. Things of course don’t go well for Tabitha, who needs her sister to help hold up the operation, and once her sister flakes out, Tabitha dies, and her soul, which is now mostly demon, is expelled. She now haunts the bathtub in which she drowned.

Wait, there’s more.

Tabitha’s sister then gets sent to a looney bin and a young married couple purchases the house where Tabitha did her killing. Haunted bathtub and all.

Wow, that must’ve been some pitch from the real estate agent. Eventually, I want to see a whole movie about the poor bastards of the real estate game who have to try and sell these houses.

Tabitha quickly gives up the bathtub to take possession of the young couple, and the people who came over for a housewarming party at the WORST POSSIBLE TIME EVER, and the cops that show up later.

Now, that doesn’t sound much like “The Thing”. In fact, what that almost sounds like is a weird blend of “The Exorcist” and “Very Bad Things”. The part that becomes very much like “The Thing” is in the execution. What’s left of Tabitha is, well, very mobile.

She’s gonna do a lot of body-hopping, folks, and no one’s gonna be able to tell right away (except maybe the audience) what body she’s in right this second.

So you’ve got lots of “who’s who”, or rather, “who’s WHAT” going on, and that makes this very much like “The Thing”, only without the nice remote setting and the easy expedient of hot needles to check out just who’s the demon in disguise.

When you start blending this much together–there are easily little bits of three movies cropping up here–you start getting some real distortion in terms of goal and focus. It’s especially bad when you consider the runtime. “Resident Demon” weighs in at a mere eighty-two minutes. There’s not a whole lot of transition here; most of the time some event occurs, then we rejoin the film at some other event, and we’re left to assume that the person involved in the first event just started moving to the third event. Even worse, a major plot point just shows up out of nowhere with just over a half hour of runtime left.

It’s a great concept, this–I don’t see nearly enough John Carpenter homages (or even John Carpenter knockoffs!), and it’s about damn time that somebody took a run at it.

Sadly, this particular one just wasn’t executed as well as it could have been, and it shows. From mysterious plot points, to disjointed plot coverage, even down to just the strangest things (like check out the nurse four minutes in–you ever seen anyone that chipper working in an insane asylum? I didn’t think so!) “Resident Demon” can only be described in one way–a really good try.

The ending is a bit confused. We’ve seen people fighting Tabitha’s possession throughout the film, but to this extent? Not until it needed to be there, a little dose of convenience at the end.

The special features are limited to trailers for “King of the Lost World”, “Dead Men Walking”, “Shapeshifter”, “The Girl in the Basement” and what is called the “Original ‘Lich’ Trailer”, which is basically footage from “Resident Demon”. I’m guessing “Resident Demon” started out as “Lich”.

So all in all, “Resident Demon” is a good try, a fairly original concept that sacrificed development for a panoply of good ideas. No one should find themselves too distressed over taking this one for a rental, but there’s vastly better out there.

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