I have to really wonder about this one. What was going through the minds of the creators when they made this one? Spoilers follow. If you haven’t seen Occupant yet and don’t want to ruin the experience, well, let it ruin itself.
First the good. I was constantly impressed with the cinematography and camera work. Real top quality stuff. For the most part anyway. The audio was good. Not excellent, perhaps, but not bad at all. (Unlike the audio in Joe Ciminera’s Purification, which was so horrible I had to keep manually adjusting the volume on my television to keep it audible yet not blaring… At least the audio in Purification is consistent with the rest of the production – consistently horrible.) The acting in Occupant was not terrible either, despite what some reviewers on IMDB.com had to say. No, the flaw in Occupant is an insidious one that would not even exist for a hypothetical viewer if that hypothetical viewer missed the last ten or so minutes of the film…
The trouble with Occupant is that all of the excellent plot devices and all of the impressive camera work lead the viewer into …
Nothing but disappointment and shock. Utter shock that you just wasted all that time and the producer(s) wasted all that money and the actors and crew wasted all that effort… Nothing happens. Nothing at all. Okay, the lead is driven out of his mind and then the clouds lift – albeit a tad too late for our long suffering anti-hero. And then the perfunctory “it isn’t really over” scene that every horror film must include… I’m angry. I really am. What the F***!?
The juxtaposition of the haunting with the rent-control squatter plot device was original (at least to me), and it allowed plenty of room for play between his potential claustrophobia-induced psychosis and legitimate demonic haunting phenomena, but the loose ends which dangled beyond the finale screaming out for resolution are inexcusable. If the production was a miserable as in Purification (sorry, but that is one lousy film) I could understand weakness in the plot, but this film was shot so well and looks and sounds so good there just isn’t any excuse for such a lame cop out of a finale. Obviously there was poor planning in this department – there was no resolution from the get go and the audience is just strung along on false promises not unlike those made by unscrupulous salesmen or real estate agents.
Which brings me back to Purification, which in some ways is the exact opposite of Occupant. Purification must have been produced on a half a grand budget judging by the results, but it was actually not so bad to watch (if you’re a bad movie junkie like me, anyhow). The atrocious acting and camera work are nauseating, but once you numb yourself to them, the story was interesting enough to sit through and you can almost sort of follow it if you want to and if you try. Occupant starts so promising but by the end you don’t even know what the hell you were sitting through. What was the point? Not to mention the obvious plot raping hole: who the hell would go through so much drama to get an apartment (yes it’s rent controlled and he’d only be paying $650/mo instead of $10,000/mo) that is obviously inhabited by a demon!? I’ll pay a bit more for a demon free apartment, thank you very much. Unless it wasn’t really haunted and he is just bat shit crazy, but the film makers didn’t even do a good job of really suggesting this possibility. It exists. Maybe if I could sit through another viewing I’d even be willing to watch for clues to this possibility, but I can’t shake the idea that there are too many inconsistencies to hold onto this idea. Something supernatural had to be happening, yet there is no psychological payoff. By the end it’s like, who cares?