Friday, October 16, 2015

'70s Horror Poll: The Tenant

#17 (tie) - 5 votes

The first time I saw Roman Polanski's The Tenant, I didn't care for it at all. I watched it with a friend who'd heard that it was an inspiration for Fight Club, only to find out that the connection between the two films was very specific and limited. Going into it, though, with "Rosemary's Baby meets Fight Club" in mind, I was disappointed to discover it's actually a slow burn starring Polanski as Trelkovsky, a meek guy who moves into an apartment previously occupied by a woman who attempted suicide by jumping out the window. The movie hints at a supernatural conspiracy among Trelkovsky's neighbors, but it gradually becomes apparent that the truth is much less frightening (to my 19-year-old self, at least), and I could only shrug at the movie's ironic ending.

I've seen it a few more times since then, and I enjoy it, especially, as a black comedy, especially the absurd final minutes. The Tenant has been interpreted as being about the dissolution of the self, or as a metaphor for the horrors of the Third Reich. Those things are almost certainly in there, but I enjoy it most as a more literal cautionary tale about the horrors of apartment dwelling, only taken to an absurd degree. Trelkovsky tries harder and harder to accommodate his neighbors, even as their complaints become increasingly unreasonable; I'd be lying if I said I didn't get the lengths he goes to in order to avoid confrontation, and my laughter at the consequences this has for Trelkovsky is very much the laughter of recognition.

U.S. Release Date: June 11, 1976 (Also released that week: The Cars That Ate ParisDeep Red)

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