Val Kilmer sinks his teeth into the role of a sinister superintendent of a fancy New York apartment building in this faintly curious supernatural chiller. With Law And Order creator Dick Wolf on producing duties and writer John J McLaughlin boasting the likes of Black Swan and Carnivàle on his résumé, the mix of mundanity and madness shouldn’t come as too much of a shock but it is a little surprising to see just how quickly The Super establishes itself as a horror. Indeed, the best sequence in the movie comes right at the start, as genre stalwart Alex Essoe (Starry Eyes, Fashionista) comes under attack from an unseen force.
And while it never gets that scary again, it does have all the ingredients for an entertaining Toolbox Murders-style slasher as widowed retired cop/new super Phil Lodge (a glowering Patrick John Flueger) arrives with his two daughters (Mattea Conforti and Taylor Richardson, both good) and promptly realises that long-serving handyman Walter (Kilmer) is deeply creepy and possibly murderous.
The setting is promising, director Stephan Rick proves to be capable of constructing a tense set-piece, and the always-watchable Paul Ben-Victor and Yul Vasquez add some credibility as Phil’s sketchy boss and sleazy colleague respectively. However, the most entertaining element is Kilmer, who goes the whole hog with his whispery, chuckling, voodoo-practicing creeper, staring out Fleuger over his tiny glasses, muttering into furnaces and stalking the two children.
But as much fun as he is, the non-horror elements are dreary and routine. There’s an uninteresting potential romance between Phil and kindly tenant Beverly (Louisa Krause), and with the running time at a brisk 88 minutes we never really get to know anyone else. The final act goes for some big bold twists (although at least one is easy to spot ahead of time) but it’s a last-minute burst of energy that really should have been injected earlier.
It’s not without its charms and you could certainly do worse, but don’t expect too much from The Super.