There are long buildups, and then there's "Resolution," a movie that's virtually all nothing-much-happening setup until a still-teasing titular event that occupies just a few final seconds.

There are long buildups, and then there’s “Resolution,” a movie that’s virtually all nothing-much-happening setup until a still-teasing titular event that occupies just a few final seconds. The nothing-happening part is actually fairly diverting, filled with bits of portentous mystery and a drolly observed intervention scene, forcing cold-turkey abstinence on a junkie. Justin Benson and Aaron Scott Moorhead’s feature has stirred some favorable notice on the fantasy fest circuit, and Tribeca Film has picked up U.S. theatrical and on-demand rights. Whether its extreme setup-to-payoff ratio will attract or reward less adventuresome genre fans remains to be seen.

After a brief prologue amply demonstrating that 30-ish beardo Chris (Vinny Curran) is out of his gourd, the pic introduces Michael (Peter Cilella), a much more levelheaded type who’s leaving his spouse (Emily Montague) for a solo vacation of sorts. Turns out he’s headed to the unfinished rural cabin where Chris has been reported as staying. Once Chris stops firing his shotgun, he greets this childhood pal with reasonable cheer, even as he displays signs of drug addiction run amok and rational thought run aground. He still knows what he wants, though — namely, crack — and he’s very clear about not wanting to go to rehab in order to kick it.

This is Michael’s cue to spring his surprise: a taser, then a pair of handcuffs to keep Chris tethered to a wall pipe for the next week, long enough for him to get clean whether he likes it or not. He most definitely does not like it. But Michael endures all abuse and subterfuge out of loving concern for his wayward friend.

As Chris goes through withdrawal, however, there are other factors to contend with. A couple of strung-out local yokels have a score with Chris they’d prefer to settle violently; reservationists object to what they view as the protagonists’ illegal squatting on tribal lands; and a weird religious group is lurking about, spreading the news that “the Celestial Messiah will land his vessel before the end of days.” As if all this weren’t enough, strange pieces of evidence — photos, film strips, video — begin turning up, seemingly pointing toward the past disappearance of students researching folk tales in the area.

At about the one-hour mark, Michael’s visit to a desert eccentric (Zahn McClamon) seems to herald a turning point. But alas, no — and for some auds, momentum may seriously stall as the pic takes yet another reel or so to let the leads banter and speculate on just what’s happening here. Others will enjoy the continued accumulation of clues, and probably look forward to piecing them together further on repeat viewings. When the “resolution” duly arrives, it is cryptic on several levels (especially visually), but certainly affirms something much larger is at stake than Chris’ sobriety.

Lead perfs are engaging and natural (with some dialogue quite possibly improvised), and supporting turns are brief but colorful. The deliberately bare-bones tech package lacks design credits or any original scoring, yet proves pro and effective.

Resolution

Production

A Tribeca Film release. Produced by Justin Benson, David Lawson. (International sales: XYC Films, Marina del Rey.) Executive producers, Nils Benson, Hal Wolverton, Alicia Johnson. Co-producer, Film Group Inc. Directed by Justin Benson, Aaron Scott Moorhead. Screenplay, Benson.

Crew

Camera (color, HD), Moorhead; editors, Benson, Moorhead; production designer, Melissa Low; sound, Daniel Martinez; supervising sound editor/re-recording mixer, Yahel Dooley. Reviewed on DVD, San Francisco, Nov. 3, 2012. (In Toronto After Dark, Fantasia, Tribeca film festivals.) Running time: 93 MIN.

With

Peter Cilella, Vinny Curran, Zahn McClamon, Bill Oberst Jr., Kurt David Anderson, Skyler Meacham, Josh Higgins, Emily Montague.
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