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Sundance 2022 Review: Resurrection – “Rebecca Hall proves she’s still one of the best actors working today”

Rebecca Hall appears in Resurrection by Andrew Semans, an official selection of the Premieres section at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wyatt Garfield.

In Resurrection, the sophomore feature from writer-director Andrew Semans, Rebecca Hall plays Margaret, a single mother who has a successful career.  She seems well-liked by her colleagues, even giving valuable and important relationship advice to one of the interns in her office.  She has a beautiful apartment.  She has a respectful yet somewhat distant relationship with her very independent 17-year-old daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman) who is going off to college in the fall.  Overall, Margaret seems… stable might be the best way to put it.  

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But that stability is threatened when all of a sudden she starts spotting a familiar face.  First it’s at a conference she’s attending.  Next it’s at the mall while she’s shopping with Abbie.  It is instantly triggering.  Because this man, David (Tim Roth) is from her past, and she’s done everything she can to escape him for reasons that will become quite clear and I’ll do my best not to spoil. 

The first half of Resurrection is set up quite well in a typical thriller style.  Before David even re-enters the scene there are clues that something isn’t quite right.  An object appearing where it definitely should not be, a ring of condensation on a desk despite the absence of a glass.  It’s certainly effective in creating the unsettling atmosphere that Seamans is after, being unsettling and disturbing.  When David does appear, he’s instantly creepy and Margaret’s reaction is so visceral that instantly you know to be frightened of him.  So far, so good.  Then, when they first have an interaction David says something where I thought, ‘Pardon? I couldn’t have heard correctly.’  Oh but I did.  And from there on out, this film that had me hooked and intrigued, devolved into something just a little bit ridiculous.   

Rebecca Hall, often seen in this film channelling her very best ‘Tom Cruise run,’ proves she’s still one of the best actors working today.  Moving through Margaret’s extremes of emotion, Hall is able to quickly change gear from anger to fear and to grief.  She has an impressive monologue where she recounts her past that is nothing short of remarkable. Tim Roth, who certainly makes for a chilling and scary villain, is menacing with his words, never violent but still threatening to appear in new nightmares.  

Resurrection, in its beginning was quite reminiscent of 2020’s The Invisible Man, which was so effective at creating fear without showing much at all.  This joins that film in demonstrating the dangers and horrors of gaslighting, manipulation and the effects of such abuse.  So it was disappointing when the film lost the tension and build-up it worked so hard for in favour of more surreal premise.  Its climax certainly fits the horror genre with its grotesque final showdown, but the reason for the gore just seems silly.  I’m sure for some, Resurrection with its ambiguity and conversation-starting visuals will be a frightening watch, but for me it just left me shaking my head and wanting the film I thought I was getting at its beginning.  

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