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Who actually is the super in The Super? Is it Phil Lodge (Patrick John Flueger), a former police officer who takes the job at a large NYC apartment building after his wife tragically dies so that he can be closer to his two kids? Or is it Walter (Val Kilmer), a crotchety weirdo who actually occupies the superintendent’s office at the building, relegating Phil and his children to set up house in a dusty storage room in the basement? Or maybe it’s Julio (Yul Vasquez), the sly charmer who befriends Phil, although I think he may just be a garbageman. Who knows – maybe it’s all three?
None of these work dynamics are explained, which gets confusing at times when you’re trying to figure out who runs this supposedly state-of-the-art high-class living facility. In any case, residents suddenly start getting brutally killed and disappearing, adding detective work to new-super Phil’s never-ending to-do list. And with old super-Walter practicing dark magic rituals in the basement and standing around in the background of every scene looking hella suspicious, Phil seems to have his number-one suspect.
I’ve always had a soft spot for the urban apartment-dwelling horror flick and The Super certainly scratches that itch, at least for a little while anyway. German director Stephan Rick (2015’s psychedelic mushroom thriller The Dark Side of the Moon) keeps the action, which is claustrophobically confined to the building, glossy and composed and the atmosphere appropriately spooky, throwing in some surreal dream sequences to freak Phil out even more while he’s trying to protect his daughters from whatever malevolent force is terrorizing their new home.
But then the script, from one of the three writers of Black Swan, gradually gets more and more painfully obvious before completely falling apart in the third act, resulting in heaps of boring exposition and poor character decisions. It’s practically impossible NOT to groan during the film’s hysterical final moments.
Val Kilmer, however, is a national treasure and should be respected as such. In his first role back from a scare with throat cancer, he easily stands out the most in every scene in which he appears. I mean, it’s not that hard when you’re up against a cardboard Kellan Lutz lookalike like Phil, but still, Kilmer goes for broke in a role that clearly demands it, popping up intermittently to chant in tongues behind his basement shrine or crazily interrogate Phil’s youngest daughter. He even utilizes the raspy voice that the cancer surgeries sadly left him with to maximum camp effect, selling every ridiculous line of dialogue with the same commitment and professionalism he’s been showing in everything since his career descended into the VOD trash bin.
So yeah, forget the other guys. He’s the #1 super in my heart.