The Tenant (1976)

aka La locataire
Article 3931 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 5-9-2012
Posting Date: 5-19-2012
Directed by Roman Polanski
Featuring Roman Polanski, Isabelle Adjani, Melvyn Douglas
Country: France
What it is: Psychological horror

A shy man takes an apartment whose former occupant committed suicide. He finds the neighbors and the management hostile, and grows to believe they are forcing him to become the former tenant… and to also kill himself.

This rather odd horror movie is something like a cross between ROSEMARY’S BABY and REPULSION, with the sinister neighbors of the former crossed with the descent into madness of the latter. The fascinating thing is that we’re never quite sure whether the various incidents he undergoes are the result of a plot, coincidence, or an overactive imagination, though the end of the movie clearly shows a descent into madness that tinges everything. Though I don’t like the movie quite as well as either of the two movies mentioned above, it does have a power to it, and I’m sure anyone who has ever had to deal with difficult fellow apartment dwellers will find something to relate to here. It is interesting to see how the various events cause the man to start identifying with the former (female) tenant, from the fact that he changes his cigarette brand to match hers to the way he ends up establishing relationships with the people that formerly knew her. The ending is a bit of a question mark, and I suspect it could be interpreted in various ways.

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