Friday, October 19, 2018

The Super: Renting in the City can be Murder

Eventually, every New Yorker has someone difficult move in next to them. Sometimes they are perfectly pleasant when you run into them in the hallway, but it is awkward to hear them scream things at each other, like “being with you makes me feel like a failure” (right, that one is still hard to forget). Presumably, it would be worse to have a serial killer in the building, especially if he was the super, carrying around those master keys. The new maintenance dude at a tony Lower Manhattan apartment building will indeed start suspecting the worst of the creepy janitor in Stephan Rick’s The Super (trailer here), which opens today in New York.

Units open up pretty frequently in this building, but Mr. Johnson, the slimy manager never has trouble renting them out again, because this is New York. Phil Lodge is a former cop, but has taken the safer co-super gig, for the sake of his daughters after his wife’s accidental death. Julio, the other super is a bit of a player, but okay to work with. However, the profusely sweaty, weirdly religious Walter is another case entirely. For some reason, the altar-keeping broom-pusher takes an unnerving interest in Lodge’s youngest daughter Rose. That makes him an obvious suspect in the recent disappearance of several tenants, but Johnson is still a dark horse candidate, since several of the victims were rent-controlled.

The Super initially appears to follow the playbook of Jaume Balaguero’s stalker-concierge film Sleep Tight, but it takes some extreme twists down the stretch. Admittedly, it totally ludicrous, but you still have to have to give John J. McLaughlin’s screenplay credit for its sheer chutzpah.

Even though he has a serious Max Cady thing going on, Val Kilmer still looks better than he has in years playing wacko Walter. Maybe its conditioning for the new Top Gun movie. He is also suitably clammy and off-putting as the mouth-breathing cellar-dweller. TV actor Patrick John Flueger does not make a particularly strong impression during the first two acts, but he helps sell the big revelation quite nicely. Paul Ben-Victor is also amusingly slimy as Johnson, while Louisa Krause has some intriguing moments as Beverly, a cool tenant and possible romantic interest, even though her character is basically shoehorned into the film. However, both Taylor Richardson and Mattea Conforti are impressive as the Lodge sisters, Violet and Rose, respectively.

Obviously in retrospect, The Super is inspired by a certain late 1990s movie other movies often compare themselves to, but it would be spoilery to say which one, because it actually manages to pull off a similar trick. There are loose ends laying all about the joint, but you have to give Rick and McLaughlin their due for trying to do something that is a little bit odd and different. Sort of recommended accordingly, The Super opens today (10/19) in New York, at the Village East.