Movie Review: Netflix's 'The Occupant' Should Occupy Your Time

The Occupant Hogar Mario Casas Tomás Javier Gutiérrez Javier Muñoz Netflix
Image by Quim Vives / Netflix
There are few movies as disquieting as “The Occupant” (“Hogar”) on Netflix. The Spanish-language thriller stars Javier Gutiérrez. The same actor who took on the lead role in “The Motive” (“El Autor”), a similarly eerie film about a desperate writer. In “The Occupant,” Gutiérrez stars as another desperate character with quite a few devious moves up his sleeve.

When Netflix’s “The Occupant” begins, Javier’s life as an ad-man is crumbling. Faced with selling his beloved apartment and parting with other material things, Javier begins to spiral. During all of this, he fails to cherish his wife, Marga (Ruth Díaz), who diligently begins working outside of the home in a bid to help the family.

Javier’s treatment of his wife is a hint at the insidiousness to come as “The Occupant” lies out a story of deceit and quiet horror. His dissatisfaction leads Javier to begin escaping his less-idealized new life through the voyeurism akin to Netflix’s “You.” Like the lead character in “The Gift,” Javier begins seeking ways to insinuate himself into the lives of his former apartment’s new owners.

Jealous of the husband and father who now occupies his former abode, Javier unleashes a torrent of mind tricks to mess with his rival. At first, it is unclear what he is after as he begins digging under Tomás’ (Mario Casas, “The Invisible Guest”) skin like a splinter. It turns out that Tomás is battling his own demons and they are about to become Javier’s army.

“The Occupant” is complex in that it lets viewers’ first impression of its main character sit on them before peeling back the surface. It is in this regard, a psychological thriller that is so suspenseful you can almost hear the inner workings of it begin to tick. As a fan of the 90s’ style of suspense, this Netflix option hits the spot.

As he did in “The Motive” and “Mirage,” Javier Gutiérrez keeps the audience guessing as to his character’s true heart. At first, a sympathetic figure, Gutiérrez keeps the audience riveted without broadcasting Javier’s thoughts, feelings, and most importantly, his plans. Going toe-to-toe with Gutiérrez is Mario Casas, who portrays Tomás’ in a multi-dimensional manner indicative of a good-hearted, if flawed, person.

Mario Casas does this without using a lot of words and his co-star works similarly. It is yet another factor that elevates the film as Javier and Tomás’ tenuous relationship takes center stage. As it does, “The Occupant” leans into its suspenseful underpinnings without ever showing its cards, and it is here that it covers the most ground.

It is arguably impossible not to continue thinking about this movie after it is over. Co-writers and directors, David and Àlex Pastor, have made sure of that. “The Occupant” is a steady and slow boil that ultimately froths up into something unexpected, thought-provoking, and scary. You will want it to occupy your time.

Rating: 8/10

You can currently stream “The Occupant” and many other scary thrillers on Netflix.