Directed by: Andrew Semans
Premise: A single mother (Rebecca Hall) is perpetually fearful of the world and the threats it might pose to herself and her daughter (Grace Kaufman). She encounters a man (Tim Roth) who triggers past trauma.
What Works: Resurrection combines the thriller and horror genres in a story about a woman’s residual anxiety from an abusive relationship. The film centers on Margaret, a successful professional and a single parent who appears to have everything in her life together. She frets about her daughter’s safety and Margaret’s anxiety takes off after spotting a man who might be her abuser. Margaret’s mental state is uncertain and the filmmakers of Resurrection do an excellent job unsettling our certainty about the reality of what we are seeing. The reality of Margaret’s experiences and her interactions with this man are never definitive and Resurrection is extremely rewatchable because of the way it subtly manipulates our understanding of the truth. That subtlety is found throughout the filmmaking. Early scenes are shot in a realistic and observational style but the film form gets looser and the lighting and camera moves become more stylized as the story progresses. But these filmmaking choices are not totally obvious. It’s mostly a subtle change in pitch that changes the tenor of particular scenes. Resurrection has an extraordinary performance by Rebecca Hall as Margaret. Hall has specialized in playing characters going through extreme emotional and psychological crises, as seen in Christine and The Night House, but Hall is more physical and ferocious in Resurrection than we’ve seen her before. Grace Kaufman also impresses as her daughter. She can tell something is wrong with her mother and Kaufman plays this concern quite well. Also impressive is Tim Roth as the man who haunts Margaret. Roth is threatening without raising his voice and he makes some outrageous claims credible. The interplay between Roth and Hall is convincing as a couple with an abusive past.
What Doesn’t: For most of its running time, Resurrection is a paranoia thriller in the tradition of 1965’s Repulsion and 2011’s Martha Marcy May Marlene. The conflict is primarily psychological and reality is uncertain. However, the climax of Resurrection takes a turn toward violence and body horror. It is a severe twist and audiences who were looking for a purely psychological thriller may be put off by the climax while fans of gory horror films may feel the rest of Resurrection lacks viscera. The climax is daring and it ultimately works for the movie but it may run up against siloed viewers.
Bottom Line: Resurrection is an intense psychological thriller. The movie showcases an impressive performance by Rebecca Hall and it offers a lot to interrogate afterward, making the movie highly rewatchable.
Episode: #928 (November 20, 2022)