The Occupant (2020) A Review

A Spanish Thriller that takes a different approach to a Stalker storyline but falls short for me of really hitting the spot.

Certificate: 15

Director: David Pastor, Àlex Pastor

Screenwriter: David Pastor, Àlex Pastor

Starring: Javier Gutiérrez, Mario Casas, Bruna Cusí

Genre: Drama, Thriller

Runtime: 103 Minutes

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

Not the typical approach to a stalker thriller, that usually focus on a Male/Female, sexual desire kind of narrative.  The Occupant instead follows the story of Javier, a washed up Advertising Executive, who is forced to downsize from his luxurious apartment when he has been out of work for a year.  Struggling to find a new job, he ends up obsessively stalking the new occupants of his old apartment, trying to force his way into their lives, with disastrous consequences.

This film is heavily character driven, with Javier really being the focus of the film.  We slowly follow his decent into sociopathic madness as his actions to ‘better’ his life slowly get worse and more and more unhinged.  By the end of the film he doesn’t even resemble the man that we see at the beginning.  And the acting by Javier Gutiérrez is pretty good throughout, though hard to properly gauge as the film is not presented in it’s original language.

And that is one of the problems I had with this film, is that it is English dubbed on Netflix. Meaning that the voice acting is not the original Spanish, and in places I don’t think the English voice actors did justice to the part, particularly to the smaller parts.  It must be hard trying to express the emotions going on in a scene when you are not directly involved in the acting, and that comes across at times.  The only person it possibly lends a hand to at times is Javier, when he needs to seem detached and emotionless.  Otherwise I felt some parts were over acted, such as the maid in the car towards the beginning, or under acted, like when Lara thinks she has killed Tomas in the final act of the film.  Sometimes, dubbing just doesn’t work.

This different approach to the idea of a stalker thriller storyline is a good one, and really does build a lot of tension, but it is still very predictable.  I guessed mostly how the film was going to end by about halfway through, and that still didn’t alleviate my disappointment with the ending.  Not only is it slightly ridiculous that Lara would marry and almost complete stranger after only a few months and after the tragic death of her former husband, which she thinks she caused.  But the intricately orchestrated deaths that come towards the end of the film are highly circumstantial and would rely on a ridiculous number of uncontrollable variables for them to work out exactly the way he planned.

Overall, the film is entertaining enough, with an engaging story and well-acted main lead, but while dramatic, the ending is ridiculous and the English dubbing ruined some of it for me.

‘The Occupant’ is available on Netflix now.

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