3.5 out of 5 stars

Resurrection isn’t what it appears. Based on the marketing and even the first act of the movie, it’s understandable to assume Resurrection is just an elevated take on a modern Liam Neeson-starring thriller, but something is askew.

Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is a single mother to Abbie (Grace Kaufman) and a high-level businesswoman at her company in Albany, New York. Her life is perfectly intact, so even an affair she’s having with co-worker Peter (Michael Esper) has a steady routine. But when a figure named David (Tim Roth) pops up from her past, Margaret’s life begins to unravel. Quickly. To say anything more would give the game away, and mind games are a key part of Resurrection

Once we finally get an idea of what’s going on in Margaret’s head, thanks to a stunning seven-minute monologue from Hall, the movie flips itself on its head. The narrative does this a few times. It’s an effective, albeit inconsistent, trick. And therein lies the biggest problem with Resurrection. On one hand, the film is disorienting, chaotic, and anxiety-inducing. It’s a white-knuckling ride in true psychological thriller fashion until some of its narrative leaps and techniques lead to a disjointed experience. And while they don’t derail the film, it does cause create some bumps along the way. 

Writer-director Andrew Semans is essentially making his mainstream directorial debut, although he did direct the long-forgotten Nancy, Please (2012) a decade prior. But what a way to re-introduce yourself! Resurrection is a truly bold movie. In a way, it’s Semans attempting to make a more “mainstream” or more “palatable” version of the gonzo freakout cult classic Possession (1981). But I’d rather watch something like Resurrection than Possession because there’s more to latch onto and less left to the imagination. But in trying to split the difference, Semans may have made the story a little jarring.

There’s a lot being said in this film about gaslighting, motherhood, a parent’s need to protect, and more besides. It’s hard to untangle all of the film’s varied, intertwined themes without diving too deep into spoiler territory. You certainly feel deep empathy and rage (like the character does) for Margaret. 

Margaret was coerced into a horrible situation as a young woman that never truly left her subconscious, and it’s now fully back in her life. The trauma she suffered has informed just about every aspect of her current manicured life and may bring her new life crashing down around her.

Aside from the discussion around any narrative flaws or thematic explorations, the most undeniable aspect of the film is Hall’s powerhouse performance. For the second year in a row, she’s going all out in a genre film after her harrowing turn in The Night House (2021), an inventive horror outing that hinged on her performance. 

Like The Night House, Resurrection doesn’t work without Hall’s total commitment. The role asks her to contort her face and body, internalise and outwardly express trauma and guilt, and believably convey the unraveling of a seemingly well-together person. It’s a tough role to pull off, but she accomplishes it.

Roth is also playing right in the movie’s pocket with a truly disturbing performance. It’s always nice to see him playing an oddball creep, and he delivers another memorable one here. Even when simply flashing a menacing (and telling) smile, he brings a frightening magnetism to the role that makes you understand how someone like him can draw people in. 

By the time one gets to the third act, Resurrection has switched things up on both the characters and the audience enough times that you feel as unmoored as Margaret. And with an ending sequence that combines those of classics Taxi Driver (1976) and Carrie (1976) with a dash of Men (2022), you leave the cinema feeling unnerved and adrift.

It’s quite a feat from Semans to pull off a feeling such as that. I don’t know if the narrative fully comes together here, but the performances (especially from Hall) are so compelling that it doesn’t matter.


Cast & Crew

writer & director: Andrew Semans
starring: Rebecca Hall, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper, Angela Wong Carbone & Tim Roth.