Get ready for the biggest WTF movie of the year! It’s been months since I’ve seen Andrew Seman’s Resurrection, but the film hasn’t left my mind even with so much time passing since my initial viewing. There’s no worse terror than psychological trauma. Although physical attacks are horrific, they don’t last the way someone screwing with your head does.
Resurrection is a slow burn where the seeds of dread are placed early. Rebecca Hall plays Margaret, a woman who doesn’t have everything together despite keeping her life in check. Outwardly, Margaret has a successful job, a beautiful home, and a loving daughter. But inwardly, Margaret is out to lunch. Margret doesn’t casually hang around her coworkers or have a social life. The time she spends at home caring for her teenage daughter is loaded with tension. Being mentally unstable for so long has caused Margaret’s daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) to become the adult of the household damaging the relationship between mother and daughter.. When we catch up with Margaret in this story, she’s in a state of recovery whose personal and professional life are relatively in control, until an old flame sends Margaret down a familiar spiral.
Margaret wasn’t always on the cusp of becoming a full-blown basket case. Something, really, someone, has caused everlasting damage in Margaret’s life. The someone is David (Tim Roth), Margaret’s ex-husband. David is the textbook definition of a toxic, gaslighting partner. Convincing Margaret that a terrible lie is true, David uses his tall tale to have Margaret do whatever he pleases. These include walking to work barefoot and standing for several hours doing a strange Yoga pose because David told her to “assume the position.”
The lie David uses to make Margaret his puppet is one too shocking to give away in the review unless you want me to ruin the film for you. The logical sense behind it is laughable but horrifying if you’re to believe it, which the movie does very well through its refrained style. How did David get Margaret to believe something so repulsive? What were the circumstances surrounding David’s fabricated story? Not much is answered as it will be up to the audience to decide if David is toying with the truth for his sick benefit.
The real standout of the film is Rebecca Hall’s performance. Adding to her already impressive resume, Ms. Hall plays traumatized to a tee. Nobody can sell terrified like Ms. Hall, who can range from fear to rage to despair with the ease of flipping a light switch. When we first meet Margaret, she’s advising a young intern named Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone) to ditch her boyfriend for someone better. Of course, later in the film, we discover why Margarett strongly opposes relationships. In what should be placed on next year’s best actress Oscar reel, Ms. Hall Hall delivers a long monologue to Gwyn, detailing why she’s messed up the way she is. When Margaret wraps up her confession, Gwyn’s reaction is priceless, topping the conversation with a polite “feel better!”
Almost as impressive is long-time actor Tim Roth’s performance as David. I could see a lot of actors overperforming as David, trying to make him creepier than he already is on the page. Mr. Roth plays Dave with a degree of exhaustion, where David seems tired from his actions where Mr. Roth slumps over in his chair while on a park bench or diner table. When he speaks, David’s voice has a degree of wheeziness and kindness that’s disturbing. You can’t say the things David’s saying with a smile on your face, yet David is happiest during his sleaziest moments.
The beginnings of true psychological terror get drowned in the blood-soaked conventions of the horror genre during Resurrection’s final moments. Although it’s nothing that comes close to ruining the film, the final two scenes play off as an obligatory pay-off ending for a movie that requires no grand delivery. Many will argue about what the ending means. I didn’t care what it meant since the finale was stylistically out of place compared to the rest of the picture.
Resurrection is not for the faint of heart. Its subject matter is stomach-turning, and it asks a lot from its viewer. Don’t expect to leave the movie with any easy answers. The only answers you’ll find are the ones you make up. It’s not always what the audience sees, but what they can’t that’s all the more terrifying. Although we see too much in the end, Resurrection is a rare horror film that relies on suspense over jump scares and trauma over gore to dig its nails into the viewer far after the movie finishes.