The most interesting aspect of Resurrection just guessed how crazy the main character is and if everything she sees is real. Still, they’re mostly intellectual curiosities and I’m not sure how effective they will be in the feature film format. My feeling is that Resurrection
could have worked better as a short film. In less than an hour, it could have been scary and unsettling enough to work without being weighed down by narrative issues. At over 100 minutes, that seems too long and the law of diminishing returns is in effect. Once we recognize the underlying dynamic, the film becomes less of a story and more of an actor/director exercise.
The setup introduces us to Margaret (Rebecca Hall), whose perspective represents that of the film. It’s not specifically a first-person film, but we see the world through Margaret’s eyes nonetheless. Initially, she appears to be a very capable businesswoman, able to wow clients, build trust with colleagues, and mentor an intern. At home, she’s a loving single mother who dreads the inevitable separation when her 18-year-old daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) heads off to college. His only flaw seems to be that he is having an affair with a married man.
Next comes the biotech conference where Margaret spots him. He’s David (Tim Roth), the proverbial man from her past, and when she tells the story of her life with him, it paints David in a poor light. But there are some truly odd details in this account, not the least of which David may have eat the baby boy he and Margaret had. A plot twist like this needs to be handled properly for it to seem plausible rather than absurd and writer/director Andrew Semans doesn’t quite handle it.
The least effective elements in Resurrection are the supernatural. This is most evident at the climax when the gore is flowing freely but in such a way that it’s borderline comedic (and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Semans’ intention). The best parts of the film are the most grounded. The scenes of Margaret becoming progressively unbalanced have more impact than the Extraterrestrial-inspired. I was most invested in the film when trying to decide if David was real, and if so, if he was the stalker or the victim. For a while, at least until it feels like we’re dragging it, the ambiguity is delicious.
There’s precision in the way Resurrection is featured with Semans and his cinematographer, Wyatt Garfield, composing shots using different lighting techniques, filters and mirrors. The atmospheres are more austere than dark. It’s certainly refreshing to find a horror movie where the viewer isn’t forced to squint in a vain attempt to pierce the darkness and penetrate the shadows. And, while the movie has at least some traditional crass bloodshed, it’s less about special effects and more about Hall’s transformative acting. (Hers is a fierce, fully engaged performance.)
Resurrection falls into the expanded category of adult horror that attempts to reclaim the genre from the PG-13 variant with its creepy scares and cliches. Although more accessible than some other films in this genre (which vary from the obtuse mother! to great You won’t be alone), Resurrection is more notable for the performances of Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman and especially Rebecca Hall than the supernatural elements or the narrative.
Resurrection (US, 2022)