Rebecca Hall surprises in a visceral and utterly gripping psychological thriller. Resurrection sways precariously on a ledge of abject terror. The protagonist’s facade of control and independence shatters into sharp fragments of doubt. She faces a long-overdue thought of horror. The life she cherishes is attacked by a formidable foe. His descent into paranoia and madness is fueled by a desperate fight for survival. The movie’s wacky climax will either disappoint or provoke heated arguments. Either way, you will be hooked.
Margaret Ballion (Hall) is the master of her domain. The biotechnology executive exudes confidence. She gives stern advice to an insecure intern (Angela Carbone); then becomes involved in torrid sexual liaisons with a doting colleague (Michael Esper). Margaret does what she wants on her schedule. Softness exists only for your beloved daughter. The nearly eighteen Abbie (Grace Kaufman) is her pride and joy. Margaret always kept Abbie within reach. The idea of her going to college will be hard to accept.
Margaret’s world begins to fall apart with a brief sighting at a conference. She shivers and hastily flees before David (Tim Roth) notices. Margaret’s ex-husband found her after twenty-two years. Her cruel subjugation was devastating. Margaret fears he will harm Abbie; that she doesn’t understand why her mother is falling apart. Margaret cannot scare David. He reasserts his terrible dominion with a mighty weapon. Her dark secret strangles Margaret like a noose.
Fascinating performance by Rebecca Hall
Resurrection depends on Hall’s riveting performance. Director/Writer Andrew Semans (nancy please) maintains its center frame throughout the movie. She is the image of success in the first act. It’s obvious why men find her attractive and subordinates cry out for guidance. There doesn’t seem to be any chink in her armor. The sudden change takes everyone by surprise. What happened to this amazing woman? Why does David affect her so much? The frightening answer reminds you that trauma can never be overcome.
The film ruthlessly tackles domestic abuse. A tormentor’s hold over his victim is all-encompassing. The mere presence of David is a punch to the gut. Everything Margaret tried to escape comes roaring back. David smiles casually as she tries to be strong. He feels your fear and despair. Margaret’s bravado wavers. The persona she has carefully constructed crumbles to dust. Keeping David away from Abbie becomes his only priority. Their scenes together are alarming.
Let’s continue to extol Hall’s greatness. Margaret has a long monologue that hits like a freight train. She explains her history with David in eerie detail. Imagine keeping a secret bottled up for decades. His release is not cathartic, but a cold acceptance of what has happened and the pain to come. Margaret knows the gravity of the situation. David wants your mind, body and soul. Hall delivers a mesmerizing and powerfully dramatic scene.
Resurrection brutal ending will be divisive. I had the opportunity to watch it several times. My interpretation ranged from WTF to contemplative. This can be annoying when you normally get a clear resolution. I will give credit to the artistic manipulation. Semans doesn’t let you go easy. It leaves lingering questions on a number of disturbing fronts.
Resurrection is a production of Tango Entertainment, Secret Engine, Square Peg and Rosetory. It will have a theatrical release from IFC Films on July 29. Followed by a VOD and Shudder streaming premiere on August 5th.