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Sundance 2022: Rebecca Hall Has Had Enough in ‘Resurrection’

The premise is too loose to make a tight thriller.

by Timothy Rawles

Rebecca Hall has become the darling of independent horror cinema. Her performance in The Night House last year made that movie rise to the top of many 2021 “best of” lists. There is no denying it, she’s a phenomenal actress. And that’s not the problem with her latest film Resurrection which premiered at the Sundance Film Festival over the weekend.

The problem lies in the story which was written by the director Andrew Semans. It tells the story of Margaret (Hall), a successful career woman who works at what looks like a cancer research center. Almost an empty nester, Margaret, or Maggie, is overly protective of her 17-year-old daughter Abbie who is going away to college in a few months.

One day Maggie sees a man who seems familiar to her and this triggers a panic attack. The man, named David (Tim Roth)  begins to show up over and over again until finally, she confronts him. Their exchange is pretty fantastic, he starts saying very non-sensical things and even pretends not to know her even though he calls her by name.

This is where the film shorts out. The rest of the story is left to the audience to decipher and frankly, there is so much to weed through it gets lost in the performance folderol. With movies like this, there is a point in there somewhere, but too many bizarre happenings in what appears to be a normal universe are just confusing.

Looking back at Darren Aronofsky’s 2017 eccentric Mother! it flew over the heads of its audience until someone finally figured out it was a metaphor for the Bible. Or something like that. At least the clue was in the title.

If Resurrection is supposed to be some stylish allegory for another thing, it was lost on me. Although, as with most horror movies lately, declining mental health is trending, even if that’s the case here there’s nothing, shall we say, elevated about it. Is this a story about a protective mother or a crazed woman who is losing her grasp on reality? I guess we’ll find out in the third act. Except, we don’t.

Maybe Hall looked at this script and saw a challenge; she is credited as an executive producer. But even her perfect acting is not enough to grout the flimsy brickwork this film tries to construct. At times I could see her genius come through. Her ability to terrify with a single eyebrow raise or soothe with a simple smile is what makes her a stellar actress.

The whole cast, even the supporting ones are great in Resurrection. Grace Kaufman who plays Hall’s daughter is also fantastic as a teen watching her mother implode.

Even Semans’ direction isn’t bad. His actors hit all the right notes for whatever he’s creating.

With all of this great talent, doing great work, what’s the problem with Resurrection? There’s even a creepy bloody ending. I think it’s like a game of Where’s Waldo. In those books, there are so many beautifully created distractions to occupy your thoughts that when you find Waldo it feels like an accomplishment. Sadly in this film, finding purpose for it is not only evasive but maddening.

Resurrection premiered at the Sundance Film Festival.

Read our other Sundance 2022 reviews HERE.