A young guy named Danny Hill (Van Hansis) arrives in New York, shortly after his grandmother dies of a heart attack in her apartment. Now, Danny is facing a tough choice – either to leave, or to “inherit” the place, and live there by himself.
The problem is that his grandmother used to pay extremely low rent for the apartment, and now the landlord sure wants a much bigger payment from the new tenant.
Danny meanwhile meets Joe (Thorsten Kaye), a doorman working in the apartment complex, who explains how Danny can legally keep the place, and still pay the same low rent as his late grandmother.
Danny likes the apartment, so Joe hooks him up with a lawyer, who promises to get Danny a court order that would allow him to live freely in the apartment, without being worried that the landlord can kick him out.
Until the court order is obtained – Danny must lock himself in for twelve days before he can take over the lease.
The real problem is that Danny might not be the only tenant living in the apartment…or is he just losing his mind too quickly?
The whole film is basically 12 days of Danny’s life inside this apartment that he so badly wants to get a hold of. At first, other characters that surround Danny all seem to be quite creepy: Joe the doorman is too helpful, the new girl Sharleen (Cody Horn) seems to be videotaping people’s lives for her online blog, and the other minor characters look creepy just as much.
Slowly as the story develops, Danny starts to lose grip on reality, slowly turning from a “tenant” into an “occupant”, who would rather die, than leave the apartment. At first, Danny was quite hesitant to move in, yet later he doesn’t want to leave the place at all.
He’s forced to “protect” his apartment from people that – he thinks – want to get him out of there.
The weirder Danny becomes, the more normal other characters start to seem, and yet it is unclear who or what is making Danny slowly lose his mind.
“Occupant” fits right into the thriller category, rather than horror, however it perfectly illustrates how easily one man can be driven towards complete madness.
The film doesn’t have any gore, or sudden scares, as it mostly relies on atmosphere, and you sometimes get this feeling that you’re also trapped in this apartment with the leading character.
Thorsten Kaye perfectly portrays the doorman Joe, and basically steals every scene he’s in. Compared to Joe, Van Hansis’s portrayal of Danny is very mediocre, uncharismatic, very usual. It is a shame that neither Kaye nor Cody Horn got more screen time.
If you can handle the slow pace and lack of action, then “The Occupant” is worth checking out at least once.
BZFILM SCALE: 5/10
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