A career-best performance from Rebecca Hall can’t save writer-director Andrew Semans‘ maddening “Resurrection,” an annoying yet deeply disturbing tale of psychological horror. The film bounces back and forth from traditional buttoned-up drama to nutty, shocking camp. It’s an unsettling movie that people will be talking about, but likely for the wrong reasons.
Margaret (Hall) is a busy single mom with a successful career. Balancing work responsibilities with being a parent, she lives with her soon-to-be eighteen year old daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman), and is very overprotective of her. While at an office seminar, Margaret thinks she catches a glimpse of a dangerous man from her past named David (Tim Roth), which startles and terrifies her. Rushing home to bolt the door and check on Abbie, Margaret realizes that David is indeed in town to take care of some unfinished business.
It’s revealed that Margaret suffered years of horrific abuse at the hands of David, her monstrous former boyfriend. It was a toxic relationship that left long-term, chronic psychological consequences, and his reappearance after nearly two decades sparks a trauma response in Margaret. Her world begins to fall apart and she relives the nightmare and terror of her past.
The film is a thriller and a cautionary tale of what untreated trauma can do to a person. Margaret becomes completely unhinged and deranged, descending into madness. Roth is chilling as the truly diabolical David, and the film is legitimately scary. The typical stalker movie elements are here, which makes for a solid and satisfying thriller — until the cinematic equivalent of a record scratch drops. That’s when I yelled out, “what in the holy hell is happening?“
I was along for the ride until the end, which concludes with what I consider an astonishingly lazy finale. It feels like Semans didn’t know where to take his story and couldn’t figure out a way to wrap it up, so he decided to throw out ambiguity coupled with gore to up the shock value. It’s irritating to ask so much of your audience and then walk away with an open ending, especially after building so much intensity in the story. I don’t want to take away from Hall’s stellar performance, but that’s why “Resurrection” annoyed me.