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07 August, 2010



Year of Release—Film:  2009

Year of Release—DVD:  2010

DVD Label:  Tempe Video

The third independent film up for review this month is Emil Hyde’s 2009 Horror-Comedy THE LANDLORD, written by Hyde, and starring Derek Dziak, Rom Barkhorder, Erin Myers, and Michelle Courvais.  The story concerns Tyler (Dziak), a Chicago landlord who runs the subdivided townhouse his sister Amy (Courvais) inherited from their parents, along with a pair of problem tenants.  However, these aren’t your normal difficult tenants.  It seems that Tyler’s parents were Satan-worshippers, and the tenants in question are a pair of demons named Rabisu and Lamashtu (Barkhorder and Lori Myers).

Though the pair leave Tyler alone, in part because they need his assistance, the same does not hold true for his human tenants.  The demons feed on human flesh, and the buildings other inhabitants are their primary food source.

Of course, this results in multiple missing persons cases, and almost constant police interest in the young owner of the property.  They’re convinced that Tyler is responsible for the disappearances, and only the lack of evidence, and the fact that Tyler’s sister is a police detective, have kept him free from arrest so far.

For his part, Tyler hates being in ‘partnership’, so to speak, with the evil beings, yet knows of no way to free himself of these bonds.  Rabisu, the male demon, is easy-going enough, at least for a flesh-eating angel of Hell who runs up Tyler’s credit cards with frequent purchases on the Shopping Channel.  Lamashtu however, better known as “… the queen of demons,” is another matter entirely.

Amy is no help in dealing with the two, as she has her own hands full.  Not only is she taking bribes from a gang of vampires in order to conceal their activities, but she and her partner Warren are carrying on an illicit affair.  Tyler is resigned to continue as always, as a virtual slave to the demons, until Donna (Erin Myers) moves in.  Suddenly, the landlord finds that he has a reason to challenge the demons, setting in motion a titanic struggle for the life of the innocent young woman.

The is the debut film for writer / director Hyde, and while there’s no confusing this film with a major studio production, it certainly is a good beginning for the young man.  IMDb.com lists the estimated budget for the movie at $22,000, and anyone who can produce—and distribute—a decent movie for less than the price of a new Chevy should certainly have a future in the business.  The script is good—not great, but it serves the purpose, and the plot manages to hang together.

The cast is adequate—they do well enough with the material they’re given, and, while no one truly shines, both Barkhorder and Courvais stand out from the crowd.  Barkhorder has a fine comedic delivery that works well with his character, and Courvais turns in the most convincing performance of the ensemble.

Fans of low-budget and independent film understand what they are in for when they pop a movie like THE LANDLORD into the player, and not only are they tolerant of its weaknesses, they actually find them enjoyable—as did I.  What many consider flaws, fans of the form see instead as “quirks,” the idiosyncrasies that make such films unique and memorable.  If you count yourself among the latter, then look for THE LANDLORD.  I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

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