After Silence of the Lambs took the Oscars and box office by storm, serial killers were all the rage. Copycat, Body Parts, Jennifer 8, Ghost in the Machine – without exception none of these movies approached Hannibal Lecter. By the late 1990s, the serial killer moral panic had largely faded. But that didn’t stop filmmakers from continuing to milk public fear and fascination. And when David Fincher’s Se7en left audiences traumatized, a second wave of serial killer movies popped up. While you likely remember Kiss the Girls, The Bone Collector, or Fallen, Russell Mulchay’s (Highlander, Resident Evil: Extinction) Resurrection has largely gone forgotten. It’s premise – a serial killer collecting body parts to re-create the Body of Christ – sounds morbid enough for genre fans. So is Resurrection worth re-visiting? Or should you just watch Se7en again?
In Chicago, Detectives Prudhomme and Hollingsworth find the body of a victim with one arm sawed off. Hidden behind curtains in the victim’s home, the Detective’s find the ominous message, ‘He’s Coming’, scrawled in blood. As more victims turn up, each missing a different body part, Prudhomme and Hollingsworth begin to piece together a series of Roman numerals carved into the bodies. Each number references a Bible verse. With this new information, Prudhomme realizes that their serial killers plans to use his victims’ body parts to recreate the Body of Christ.
Resurrection Loses Focus With a Tired Police Procedural Formula
If director Russell Mulchay and writers Brad Mirman and Christopher Lambert didn’t intend overlap with Se7en then we have quite the coincidence on our hands. On one hand, Se7en finds two cops hunting down a serial killer visiting the seven deadly sins on his victims. Comparatively, Resurrection finds two cops hunting down a serial killer collecting body parts of victims to re-create the body of Jesus Christ. Do you see the subtle difference? Don’t worry if you don’t. In spite of its derivativeness, Mulchay crafts some disturbing images and delivers occasional suspense. With his music video background, Mulchay knows how to frame his action and grotesque deaths.
…Resurrection awkwardly mixes psychological horror with tired 80s cop movie tropes.
Where Resurrection stalls is in its police procedural bits and an unnecessarily long runtime. Like The First Power, another religious-themed 90s serial killer movie, Resurrection awkwardly mixes psychological horror with tired 80s cop movie tropes. You’ll find scenes where cops shoot recklessly into crowds. Christopher Lambert’s Detective Prudhomme has the obligatory tragic backstory. There’s a wife whose only purpose to the story is to find herself in danger. Yes, Detective Prudhomme also has a sidekick who provides light comic relief. If you guessed something bad happens to him, congratulations. As a bonus, Mulchay even treats us to scenes where cops argue over who’s getting the ‘collar’ and a tired police chief pulling Lambert off the case. Whenever Resurrection steers into these recycled clichés, it pads the movie’s length pushing the story past its expiration date.
Christopher Lambert Stretches His Straight-to-Video Limits
Following his breakout role in Mulchay’s Highlander, Christopher Lambert settled into an occasional straight-to-video career. Outside of his Mortal Kombat role and a cult sci-fi thriller (Fortress), Lambert won’t likely register with younger audiences. Even for 90s cinephiles, Lambert was a step below other B-level action starts like Steven Seagal. Truth be told, Lambert’s range was always limited. And unfortunately, Resurrection stretches that range past its breaking point. Lambert is best as the stoic protagonist of few words. Any time Resurrection demands Lambert emote, the movie nearly veers into parody. In particular, Lambert’s over-acting dilutes one of the movie’s more gruesome scenes.
Any time Resurrection demands Lambert emote, the movie nearly veers into parody.
Though Lambert’s performance is thin, it never derails this thriller. Similarly, Resurrection’s ‘Numbers Killer’ makes for a compelling villain right up until the point where is identity is revealed. As far as serial killer movies go, the motive and modus operandi here makes for pretty chilling stuff. It produces the movie’s best moments and – despite its clear overlap with Se7en’s John Doe – gives Resurrection some danger. However, once Mulchay pulls the curtain on his killer, Resurrection loses much of this danger and tension. While Robert Joy made for a frightening villain under make-up in The Hills Have Eyes, he’s pretty underwhelming here. Ironically, Leland Orser (Detective Hollingsworth – a victim in Se7en – gets to play a come this time … who later becomes a victim. Kudos to the random David Cronenberg appearance.
Resurrection a Derivative If Not Somewhat Serviceable 90s Thriller
If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, then it’s probably a duck. No matter how one spins it, Resurrection is a blatant ripoff of Se7en. The comparisons are both unavoidable and unfortunate. That is, Resurrection doesn’t approach Fincher’s bleak thriller on any barometer of quality. But if you can dismiss the similarities and shut your brain off, Resurrection still proves to be a serviceable thriller. Mulchay puts a few genuinely disturbing images up on the screen. And the killer’s modus operandi is admittedly unique and disturbing. Shave about 20 minutes off the police procedural bits and you’d have something close to a riveting thriller.