Kilmer plays Walter, an odd and reclusive superintendent who lurks the dark corridors amidst a series of unexplained deaths and disappearances. Patrick John Flueger (The Chicago television franchise) co-stars as Phil, a bereaved father and former cop who takes a job as a fellow super and lives with his two daughters in a dingy basement storeroom. As the strange occurrences draw closer and Walter becomes increasingly sinister, Phil resorts to desperate measures to entrap his suspicious co-worker.
To reveal more would be to give away the film's secrets, of which there are several. And while the final act may come as no surprise to attentive horror fans, it does play out rather nicely regardless. The first striking quality of THE SUPER is its distinct production design of atmospheric lighting and an arresting colour palate. Given that most of the film unfolds throughout the dreary basement setting, director Stephan Rick has made good use of his set by giving it the sort of tone that genre fans might expect from A Nightmare on Elm Street and the like. Suffice to say it is an attractive looking film, which is no doubt owed to the fact that the film was produced by Dick Wolf, the renowned creator of television franchises like The Chicago series and Law & Order.
The obvious drawcard for most will be seeing Val Kilmer back on the screen following his past several years of health issues. Having all but lost his voice from his battle with throat cancer, he dives head-first into this new film and harnesses his disability with maximum effect. Accepting the role of Walter was a smart decision on his part given the minimal amount of dialogue, which gives the few lines that he does have an added level of gravel, mystique and menace. It's wonderful to see him back in front of the camera and what a fantastic return. His turn isn't exactly a stretch by any means, and he clearly has more talent that he's able to demonstrate here, but his performance is wonderfully delivered and it is as equally unsettling as it is creepy.
Being a direct-to-video title, and having flown under the radar, THE SUPER earns itself a lot of lenity. Horror movies set inside apartment complexes are a dime a dozen, and there isn't much going on here that hasn't been done before. In fact it instantly conjures memories of Tobe Hooper's The Toolbox Murders, or another recent DTV film called The Sublet. And with that whole Elm Street vibe flowing through its production design, there is no doubt that Stephan Rick has relied heavily on many influences, which is perfectly fine, and in doing so he has delivered an unassuming horror movie that is better than it ought to be and offers more in texture than it does suspense.
The screenwriter is John McLaughlin, whose most notable works are Black Swan, Parker and Hitchcock, and with his aptitude comes an added level of credibility. It is well written, well directed and well acted. There's a lot of fun to be had and with Kilmer's ominous performance paired with a few cheeky red herrings, THE SUPER brings home the goods for those willing to overlook its cliches and formulaic tactics.
The Super is released on DVD through Eagle Entertainment on August 18