The great strength of Resurrection is its ability to dispense information free of context, only to provide said context at a precise point later in the film, evoking maximum horror and dread with a near clinical cruelty. To describe the plot with any sort of detail would rob it of its power, but trust that it’s so much more than just a shell for some powerhouse performances and assured direction. It’s a hardcore psychological thriller, a paranoid horror slow burn, and a darkly absurd near-chamber piece. Plus, it’s the unofficial cap to the Rebecca Hall Loses Her Shit trilogy (Christine, The Night House, Resurrection).
The near-chamber here comes in the form of Rebecca Hall, who also doubles as the audience surrogate. Never once does the film leave her perspective. Here she plays Margaret, a buttoned-up single mother who seems to have her shit together. So much so that she even feels comfortable regularly dispensing good relationship advice to a young intern. We get the sense that Margaret has seen some things in her day, and is now a strong, confident person because of it. Sure, she’s a little reticent to let her daughter leave for college, but she’ll manage. Sure, she’s dating a married man, but it’s a measure of control more than it is anything covetous. The fewer connections she has, the more of herself she can devote to her job and family.
But there’s one connection that’s come back to her life to haunt her, and it comes in the form of an ex (Tim Roth).
And that’s all I’m comfortable saying.
It all seems rather familiar at first — a story that’s been done to death many times before — but it becomes a much different beast through the subtle application of very unsubtle dialogue. To say her ex brings back some secrets from their shared past would be an understatement. The nature of theses revelations is indescribably upsetting, and will leave the viewer wondering not just who to believe, but if the nature of reality can even be trusted.
Resurrection is a sparsely directed film, which is not to say that it’s basic, but rather that it’s not showy in its presentation. Many filmmakers would used the heightened nature of Margaret’s story as an excuse for flashiness, but writer/director Andrew Semans keeps things muted and sharp, allowing for the performances to really shine. Hall and Roth are absolutely electric together, giving a duo of performances that would make Zulawski proud.
Semans’ work would also make the madman behind Possession proud in the way he’s able to use the surreal and grotesque to tell a story not just of gaslighting and abuse, but of the illogical magic that keeps abusive relationships alive. The lessons of Resurrection, if you could call such things lessons, are pointed at those who don’t seem to understand the hypnotic, intoxicating power of an abusive partner, and who try to apply logic to a situation to which it simply does not apply. “Why don’t you just leave if it’s so bad?”
But as Resurrection enters its off-the-wall final act, I could sense a turn happening in the audience. Groans, chatter, and any of a variety of audible eye-rolls began to occur. With all respect to the notion of SHUT THE FUCK UP AT THE MOVIES YOU INGRATE, it was admittedly fascinating to hear so much chatter speaking against the logic of the film, which ultimately creates an illogical world and strips the coldly logical protagonist of common sense, all at the expense of audience sensibilities. You love to see it.
Directed by Andrew Semans
Written by Andrew Semans
Starring Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper
No rating available, 103 minutes