The Occupant

Javier is a middle-aged job who has lost his job, and his dignity. He interviews for jobs that are well beneath him and is turned away for being too qualified. Next Javier (Javier Gutiérrez) loses his luxury apartment, and his car. Well he should have lost his car, he certainly told his wife he sold it, and yet he drives it still, unable to let go of this last tangible trace of his former life, his former self, his very identity.

And yet Javier is not a sympathetic man. He bullies his son. He belittles his wife when she takes a job cleaning to support the family. And through it all he feels very, very entitled. He’s certain he’s better than everyone else, and he’s filled with rage when his lifestyle cannot reflect his ego. So Javier does what any fragile white male’s ego would: he begins to stalk the family living in his old home.

Yeah, it’s not a great trajectory and yet it gets so much worse. It gets so much worse in an inexplicable way. One day he’s a bristling interviewee and the next he’s a complete psychopath. He makes terrible choice after terrible choice and we never really understand why. This is not mere anger, not disappointment or even resentment. Javier’s soul turns completely inside out, his actions cross the line into evil, and the film never bothers to justify or explain it. So while Javier is never a man you root for, he quickly becomes a man you despise, and no fate imaginable seems harsh enough.

Javier Gutiérrez must be a very good actor because his character turns on a dime. You don’t see it coming but nor do you doubt it. The rest of the cast, including Mario Casas, Bruna Cusi, and Ruth Diaz, are equally adept, but unfortunately this film just doesn’t live up to its premise or its promise. The concept is good but the execution is bad. Written and directed by David Pastor and Àlex Pastor, you can’t help but wish the film were more grounded, less concerned with shock value. It plays like a psychological thriller but we’re deprived of the psychology. And because Javier is so despicable and without any apparent or sufficient motivation, the thriller aspect is hard to buy into. There’s definitely tension but it never pays off. The film leaves you with an ending that won’t satisfy even the most lenient critic among us. Netflix hasn’t yet stepped up to help us fight the boredom of self-isolation and instead has stuck to its schedule of dumping really heavy, really gloomy titles on us. But even in the best of times, this movie would still rank among the worst.

5 thoughts on “The Occupant

  1. Invisibly Me

    Naw such a shame, it sounded almost promising with the acting quality even as a casual watch while doing something more entertaining like poking yourself in the eye. At least we know what not to bother with on Netflix when trawling through for a distraction from reality for a while.x

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