Not to be confused with the Jeffrey Dean Morgan-in-the-walls Hammer Film, which might not have made that much of a splash but is still recent enough to make the retitling an odd choice – even if British audiences don’t quite know what a sublet is. Joanna (Tianna Nori) and partner Geoff (Mark Matechuk) – who have a newborn baby, Porter – move into a big-ish apartment in an old-ish building, oddly without seeing the tenant who is subletting to them (mystery notes are left). While Geoff, a self-involved actor and full-time unhelpful dick, is out chasing work (and perhaps his old girlfriend, played with splendid spite by Rachel Sellan), Joanna has post-natal frumpiness issues and gets weirded out by the ways he can hear neighbours but never sees them, the lurking presence of a seemingly homeless woman (Krista Madison) she believes is their landlord, the way knick-knacks and furniture she rearranges revert to their original positions and Porter’s trick of only stopping crying in the one room in the place the tenants are supposed to stay out of.
There are throwbacks to Rosemary’s Baby (and other Polanski apartment-dweller crackup films) but also elements of ‘The Yellow Wallpaper’ as aggrieved Joanna finds the diary of a woman who suffered through a miserable family situation in the same flat and finds the past repeating or being replayed as she loses her own identity. It’s pretty obvious where this is going, but it doesn’t draw things out too much and the finale is effectively gruesome – then haunting, with the usual next-tenants-arrive ending (and a nod to Burnt Offerings). It’s a very Canadian effort from director John Ainslie, who co-wrote with Alyson Richards, but has a nice central location and sterling work from Nori as the cracking-up protagonist … the scenes of domestic irritation are perfectly staged and played, setting up abrupt slips into ghostliness or psycho violence.