A strong central performance and some effective moments notwithstanding, The Occupant is too long and shallow to be a memorable revival of the stalker-thriller genre.
David and Àlex Pastor’s throwback noir The Occupant, now available on Netflix, is a good example of a classic genre – the stalker-thriller, in this case – getting a contemporary makeover. While such things tended to focus on leering men and the innocent women who became the unwitting object of their affection, or at least something along those lines, this one concerns Javier (Javier Gutiérrez, late of The Motive and Mirage, both also on Netflix), a formerly well-to-do ad executive who becomes obsessed with the man, Tomás (Mario Casas), who takes on the lease of his luxury home after he’s forced to downsize.
That slightly unusual setup, and the themes of social status, materialism and spiraling sociopathy help to give The Occupant a fresh-feeling lick of streaming-ready paint. We know this kind of thing does well on Netflix, and perhaps doubly so in the wake of some successes with similar undertones of class warfare. Gutiérrez is well-served by the script’s focus on his superficial supervillain, a vessel for a critique of entitlement and self-obsession who is believably creepy.
Despite the film’s psychological realism, it’s a touch too long and loses its own way in a third act that feels at times both predictable and slightly ridiculous. The welcome character-driven focus and some effective dramatic moments are enough to keep The Occupant entertaining but unmemorable; a solid genre outing that, I suppose ironically, could have stood to take a closer look at the obsessive whose story it attempts to tell.
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