Resurrection (United States, 2022)

July 30, 2022
A movie review by James Berardinelli
Resurrection Poster

The most interesting aspect of Resurrection comes from guessing how insane the main character is and whether anything she’s seeing is real. Still, those are primarily intellectual curiosities and I’m not sure how well they gel in feature length format. My sense is that Resurrection might have worked better as a short. At under an hour, it could have been creepy and unsettling enough to work without being weighed down by narrative issues. At over 100 minutes, it feels too long and there’s a law of diminishing returns in effect. Once we recognize the underlying dynamic, the movie becomes less of a story and more of an acting/directorial exercise.

The setup introduces us to Margaret (Rebecca Hall), whose perspective represents that of the film. It’s not specifically a first-person movie but we are nevertheless seeing the world through Margaret’s eyes. Initially, she seems to be a thoroughly competent businesswoman who is capable of wowing clients, building trust with her co-workers, and mentoring an intern. At home, she’s a loving single mom who’s dreading the inevitable separation when her 18-year-old daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman), heads off to college. Her one blemish appears to be that he’s having an affair with a married man.

Then comes the bio-tech conference where Margaret spots him. He is David (Tim Roth), the proverbial Man From Her Past and, when she tells her story of life with him, it paints David in a poor light. But there are some really weird details in that narrative, not the least of which is that David may have eaten the baby boy he and Margaret had. A plot twist like that has to be handled just right for it to seem plausible rather than absurd and writer/director Andrew Semans doesn’t quite manage it.

The least effective elements in Resurrection are the supernatural ones. This is most evident at the climax when the gore flows freely but in such a fashion that it’s borderline comedic (and I’m pretty sure that wasn’t Semans’ intention). The best parts of the movie are the most grounded ones. The scenes of Margaret gradually becoming unhinged are more impactful than the Alien­-inspired ones. I was most invested in the film when trying to decide whether David was real and, if so, whether he was the stalker or the victim. For a while, at least until it starts to feel like it’s being dragged out, the ambiguity is delicious.

There’s precision in the way Resurrection is presented with Semans and his cinematographer, Wyatt Garfield, composing shots using different lighting techniques, filters, and mirrors. The atmospherics are more stark than dark. It’s admittedly refreshing to find a horror film where the viewer isn’t required to squint in a vain attempt to pierce the gloom and penetrate the shadows. And, although the movie has at least one traditional gross-out bloodbath, this is less about special effects than Hall’s transformative acting. (Hers is a ferocious, fully committed performance.)

Resurrection falls into the broadening category of adult-oriented horror that attempts to reclaim the genre from the PG-13 variant with its rampant jump-scares and clichés. Although more accessible than some of the other movies of this sort (which vary from the obtuse mother! to the excellent You Won’t Be Alone), Resurrection is more notable for the performances of Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, and especially Rebecca Hall than the supernatural elements or the narrative.

Resurrection (United States, 2022)

Director: Andrew Semans
Cast: Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper
Screenplay: Andrew Semans
Cinematography: Wyatt Garfield
Music: Jim Williams
U.S. Distributor: IFC Films
Run Time: 1:43
U.S. Release Date: 2022-07-29
MPAA Rating: "R" (Violence, Gore, Profanity, Sexual Content)
Genre: Horror/Thriller
Subtitles: none
Theatrical Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1