The Landlord (2009)
THIS REVIEW CONTAINS SOME MINOR SPOILERS
Recently I was enticed by some fairly excellent throw-back style cover art to watch writer/director Emil Hyde's (apparently) first and only movie, The Landlord. Knowing that it was very low budget picture, I assumed it wouldn't live up to the great cover, but picked it up anyway off of the official website just to support independent horror. The DVD will only cost you $12, including shipping. Click the link to check out the trailer
The Landlord is the story Gary, landlord and part owner of a small apartment building. He's a regular guy, who happens to have a very irregular problem - his apartment building actually houses two blood-thirsty demons. It's up to Gary to keep the demons fed and happy, by enticing tenants (preferably fat, lazy ones) to rent out his rooms. One day, a young woman, with troubles of her own, moves into one of the vacancies - only this time Gary takes a shine to her and has to do decide what to do about his situation.
I wish I could get on here and say that my preconceived notions were all wrong, and that The Landlord was actually a fantastic first effort from Emil Hyde. Unfortunately, I think the best thing I can say about the film's merits is that it's not bad. It's not particularly good, but it's not terrible either. Most of the jokes don't quite land, the grue is lacking, the effects are cheap (if sometimes effective), the writing is fairly flat, and the acting is generally amateurish.
There's one really strange side story in the film that involves Gary the landlord's sister. Apparently she's a dirty cop who has made a deal with demon possessed monster/vampire people. The monsters feed on criminals, and the cops collect their spoils is how it works, I guess. Anyway, it's never really explained why these creatures exist, if they are an accepted part of reality, or what. It's just kind of a strange little story tucked into the larger one.
There is a lot to knock about The Landlord, but there are good things as well. The best thing the films has going for it is that there is certainly a lot of heart behind The Landlord. I love Rom Barkhoarder's Rabisu character, and I think he really shines here. The setup is interesting, even if the writing fails to deliver on it. And, even though most of the jokes fall flat, some of them actually do work.
What I am really hoping is that this is a stepping stone for the crew involved here. If Hyde can harness the passion that is seen here, and develop some of the talent that is glimpsed here, then I think we could really be on to something. Cheapie horror doesn't have to be bad, and even though The Landlord isn't going to make you rethink your ranking of best horror flicks, it does at least exemplify that.