Resurrection Synopsis: Margaret’s (Rebecca Hall) carefully constructed life gets upended when an unwelcome man (Tim Roth) from her past returns, forcing her to confront the monster she’s evaded for two decades.
Margaret lives her life with exacting composure. She executes her lofty job and single-parent lifestyle with her college-bound daughter in a picturesque manner. But, when a man from her traumatic past returns, Margaret descends down a pathway of unraveling mania in the Sundance 2022 offering, Resurrection.
Digging into the trenches of a man’s toxic grasp on a female victim is a concept as old as horror films themselves (another 2022 Sundance film, Watcher, also explored the creepy male commodification performed by an unhinged stalker). In the hands of writer/director Andrew Semans, Resurrection reinvents the familiar concept in an entrancing horror showcase defined by the singular talents of its remarkable lead actress.
Semans, who last directed the obscure 2012 title Nancy, Please, showcases himself as an auteur to watch in the horror sphere. Every frame of Resurrection displays an assured balance of thought and craft as Semans implements expressive avenues for conjuring Margaret’s mental degradation. Alongside cinematographer Wyatt Garfield, the duo embeds viewers in her shoes through a balance of visceral techniques.
The subdued techniques of the film’s opening moments quickly disintegrate into a flurry of kinetic choices. Resurrection encapsulates raw panic and angst in ways few films can match, often varying between dynamic camera movements and clever perspective changes as compelling cinematic tools. The use of blurred backgrounds and articulate lighting heightens the uneasy atmosphere, which is only made more urgent by the claustrophobic intimacy that Semans deploys in his framing of Margaret’s unraveling. All of these assured touches allow Resurrection to maintain an unnerving sensibility without placating to the showier, blood-soaked standards of most modern horror films.
Resurrection’s haunting, cat-and-mouse tale of trauma and inescapable grief is rampant with absorbing complexities. The arrival of a painful ghost from Margaret’s past triggers a wave of emotionally-driven reactions. Her fight-or-flight reflexes consume her persona, ultimately morphing Margaret into the problematic entity she tries to rid herself of as she becomes possessive of her daughter. While the film effectively ruminates on the unfair burdens women face and the lingering ramifications of PTSD, I found the experience most compelling as a depiction of motherhood’s unshakeable responsibilities.
None of the film’s strengths would resonate so profoundly without the presence of star Rebecca Hall. Following her evocative performances in The Night House and Christine, Hall continues displaying rare dedication as one of her generation’s finest talents. As Margaret, she imbues potent gravitas into Margaret’s gradual suffocation from her untamed burdens. It’s a remarkably expressive performance, with Hall’s skillset allowing each wild burst of emotion and manic decision to maintain a sense of humanity.
Capped off with a piercingly chilling final act, Resurrection ranks as one of the year’s most impactful horror entries. In a just world, we would be spotlighting Rebecca Hall’s performance come award season.
Resurrection opens in theaters on July 29 before a VOD releases on August 5.