Thursday, April 6, 2006

The Tenant (Le Locataire)

The Tenant(1976)
Directed by
Roman Polanski
Written by Gerard Brach & Roman Polanski, from a novel by Roland Topor.
Starring Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Shelley Winters
IMDB Entry

A neat piece of psychological horror.  Polanski had had major commercial success with Rosemary's Baby a few years before, and this film is in the same vein. In fact, to fully enjoy it, you need to have seenRosemary's Baby.  It's not a sequel, and I suppose you can enjoy it without seeing the earlier film, but Polanski assumes you've seen the previous movie, and plays upon those expectations, much like Woody Allen assumes you know Casablanca when you seen Play it Again Sam (though, of course, Polanski is much darker).

Polanski plays the lead, a Polish exile in Paris who is looking for an apartment.  He hears that one is soon to be available:  its resident, a young woman, has jumped out of the window in a suicide attempt, and is dying.  Polanski goes to see her and, while he's there, she screams.  The meaning of that scream is the twist that makes the movie one of the best horror films ever.  Polanski plays with your expectations and things are not what they seem, with a final scene that's both chilling and a twist you will never see coming.

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