The Super


Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

The Super
"There are a number of familiar horror tropes here but they intersect in ways you might not expect."

Life has been pretty tough on former cop Phil (Patrick John Flueger). After suffering a bereavement, he's decided to take a job as superintendent in a large apartment building so that he can be around more and try to be a better dad. Teenage daughter Violet (Taylor Richardson) is at that stage is life where she's starting to break away, and is increasingly unwilling to accept his view of things. Younger daughter Rose (Mattea Conforti) usually keeps herself to herself, but for some reason she finds herself drawn to the basement of the building, where she attracts the attention of creepy janitor Walter (Val Kilmer). To make things worse, Phil finds himself having to deal with a series of mysterious disappearances among the residents.

Kilmer's work is notorious for its inconsistency but here he seems to have found a role he can really connect with, giving the shuffling, suspicious Walter an intense presence and motives that take a while to pin down. Naturally, Phil is worried about the janitor's apparent interest in his family, and he is perhaps all the more protective because of what happened in the past. It doesn't take him long to tell friends that he suspects Walter is behind the disappearances, but proving that is no easy matter.

Copy picture

There are a number of familiar horror tropes here but they intersect in ways you might not expect; it's a rare genre film that successfully surprises its audience, but this one has the potential to do so. It also benefits from nicely designed sets that help to give depth to characters we meet only briefly. Flueger is an effective lead, easy to like but capable of showing us, nonetheless, what his troubles have done to him. Richardson is impressive as the resentful teenager with a heavy emotional burden to carry. If there's one disappointment, it's that Louisa Krause is wasted in an underwritten love interest role which seems to exist primarily as a plot hook.

Other themes around attitudes to security, violence and domestic abuse fill out the background, and director Stephan Rick presents us with an an interesting set of minor characters whose interactions tell us a lot about their community. There are details related to the daily struggles involved in working class life and the ways people carve out space for themselves when they can't do things the conventional way that add to this richness. In an age when horror films seem to be focusing on increasingly tiny casts, the scope of the film makes it stand out.

With a final shot that once again looks like standard genre fare but, in context, sends a very different message, The Super invites viewers to ask questions and be wary of easy answers.

Reviewed on: 15 Oct 2018
Share this with others on...
A man becomes the superintendent of a large New York City apartment building where people mysteriously go missing.

Director: Stephan Rick

Writer: John J McLaughlin

Starring: Patrick John Flueger, Val Kilmer, Louisa Krause, Mattea Conforti

Year: 2017

Runtime: 90 minutes

Country: US


Search database: