As the bigger event horror movies have marched into theaters this summer, smaller indie horror movies have quietly tried to scratch out niches on VOD platforms. Last week, Resurrection – starring Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth – found itself sandwiched between Jordan Peele’s Nope and the upcoming Bodies, Bodies, Bodies. And the twisty psychological thriller still found itself competing with the conversion camp thriller They/Them. But the good news for Resurrection is that They/Them limited its audience outside of the United States by releasing exclusively on Peacock. Moreover, critics have heaped big praise on the thriller.
A single mother and businesswoman, Margaret seems to have her life in perfect order. Even if she micromanages her soon-to-be adult daughter’s life a bit too much, Margaret exudes confidence and success. But when she spots David, an older man, sitting at a conference she’s attending, Margaret inexplicably panics. She later confronts David who initially claims to not know her. In spite of his protests, David is somehow a part of traumatic past that Margaret has pushed out of her mind. And it’s a past that is coming back to haunt her.
Resurrection Almost Immediately Introduces a Compelling Mystery That it Steadily Nurtures
As 2022 rolls on, Resurrection joins a handful of horror movies and thrillers displaying remarkable confidence and craftmanship from relatively new filmmakers. Writer and director Andrew Semans has a handful of credits under his belt with this being only his second feature-length movie. In spite of its 103 minute runtime, Resurrection boasts a lean economy of storytelling. That is, Semans quickly establishes Margaret’s carefully contained life while also hinting at the fear that fuels her micromanaging of her and daughter Abbie’s life. With methodical pacing, Resurrection challenges audiences to figure out if Margaret is imagining things once David shows up on screen. Little things evoke maximum suspense. Just one line of dialogue from David during the park scene throws what you thought you knew into flux.
Strong performances from both Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth further bolster Resurrection’s overall tension.
Though it’s largely a Hitchcockian thriller, Resurrection mixes some David Lynch-inspired imagery into the mix. Most importantly, Semans ensures these occasional nightmares factor into the latter half of the movie’s narrative. Strong performances from both Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth further bolster Resurrection’s overall tension. Over the last several years, Hall (The Night House, Godzilla vs. Kong) has quietly established herself as one of the most underrated performers working today. Hall’s work here – powerful and electrifying – rivals what Toni Collette accomplished in Hereditary. And Tim Roth has such a natural charisma that it makes his quietly nasty turn here all the more chilling.
Resurrection Abruptly Shifts Into Surrealist Territory
Nearly two-thirds into the movie, Resurrection shifts gears from a compelling psychological thriller to surrealist horror. In fact, Semans may outdo Alex Garland’s Men in terms of eccentric ambiguity. Up to this point, Semans has teased us about what may or may not be real, interspersing surrealist nightmare images, like Margaret’s dream of a charred baby doll in the oven. But Resurrection offers enough information to suggest that David is in fact a real man. What follows in David’s hotel room, however, defies plausibility. Margaret stabs David in the stomach before performing a graphic cesarean section and removing a baby. Cut away to the final scene where Margaret holds the baby whilst saying goodbye to her daughter who’s off to college. Just the unnaturally bright lighting in the scene along with Margaret’s distantly happy look suggest this is her own fantasy.
…Resurrection shifts gears from a compelling psychological thriller to surrealist horror.
And with that conclusion, Resurrection joins Men and Titane as one of the more gleefully weird movies in recent memory. So what does it all mean? Clearly, Semans has something on his mind not the least of which deals with trauma and fears of parenting. In addition, one can’t help but see some feminist threads woven into the story. Much of Resurrection confronts the audience with the reality of gaslighting experienced by abuse victims. Yet if that’s the case, Semans’ endings – which seemingly casts Margaret as an unreliable narrator – feels contradictory.
Resurrection Loses Its Grip By The Third Act
Stellar performances from Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, steadily rising tension, and an absorbing story make Resurrection a fascinating watch. Moreover, Semans offers ambiguity and potential subtext for audiences to mull over long after the movie ends. That ambiguity may prove frustrating for some thereby limiting the movie’s audience. And its bizarre ending takes the thriller a bit too far off the tracks a bit too quickly. Nevertheless, Resurrection remains utterly compelling and haunting.