Director – Roman Polanski
Cast – Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas, Jo Van Fleet, Bernard Fresson, Lila Kedrova
Release Year – 1976
Reviewed by John of the Dead
The Tenant is the third installment to famed director Roman Polanski’s unofficial “Apartment Trilogy”, which began with Repulsion and was followed by the infamous Rosemary’s Baby. I guess this guy has something with apartments and their tenants, because all three of these films offer a unique spook sure to make you think twice about applying for that nice apartment/condo/loft you have been drooling over. Heh.
The film stars Polanski as Trelkovsky, a quiet man with few friends and no significant others. He rents an apartment who’s previous tenant committed suicide in a very peculiar fashion. Soon enough, he begins to think that his landlord and fellow tenants are in on a scheme to drive him to suicide as well.
Once again, Polanski brings us his fantastic sense of psychological horror and does us fans the unique favor of starring in this film himself. If anyone can play a creeper, with an au natural sense, it is Polanski himself. Hasn’t he just lived a messed up life?
I really enjoyed the story in this film, and how someone as naïve as Trelkovsky can slowly drive himself mad over the events surrounding him. The question constantly asked while viewing this film is “Is he crazy, or is he being haunted?”. It makes the film all the more interesting, especially since for the most part you are really left to decide for yourself what the answer is. The creep-factor in this film is good, with amazing atmosphere and a VERY chilling score. Hands down, this film’s score has to be one the best scores I’ve ever heard in a horror film. You want atmosphere? Polanski WILL GIVE YOU ATMOSPHERE!
Polanski’s direction for the film is excellent, as is his direction with basically every film he has helmed. The pacing is a bit slow, but with a story-driven psychological horror film like this one…development is key. Trelkovsky’s transformation from a simple quiet man to nut job is an interesting one, and is sure to keep your interest once he really gets to his more “entertaining” side(heh, you’ll see).
My only knock against this film is that it was pretty slow to start. The first 30 minutes could have been done away with, and felt more like “filler” than anything else. I can understand that Polanski was trying to develop Trelkovsky’s character, but even without some of the early scenes of pretty much NOTHING could have been removed and we still would have “got” Trelkovsky’s character.
Overall, this is a great psychological horror flick that scores big with it’s use of atmosphere and music. If you are a fan of Polanski or this type of horror then this is a must see.