'Resurrection' Might Be This Year's Answer to 'Malignant'
This Sundance horror film starring Rebecca Hall is an unbelievable, zany ride.
Last year, one of the most joyous, ridiculous, and flat-out fun cinematic experiences came from James Wan's Malignant, which ends with a goofy giallo twist that must be seen to be believed. If there's an heir to that in 2022, it might be Resurrection.
Having premiered this weekend at the virtual Sundance Film Festival, Andrew Semans' film starring Rebecca Hall is arguably better acted and better written than Malignant—it has that "elevated horror" sheen that might make some people roll their eyes and others more readily press play—but it ends on such a wild note that I was basically screaming at my television. Plus, it features a performance from Hall that is absolutely mesmerizing, proving her yet again to be one of the best actors of her generation.
I'm going to tread lightly here so as not to spoil anything. You'll have to keep guessing at the directions the film goes based on the exclamatory nature of the adjectives I use. However, if you can figure out what is tormenting Hall's character, you are savvier than I am.
Hall plays Margaret, a woman who appears above all to be competent. She handles complaints at work swiftly and without bullshit, and makes time for casual sex with her married colleague (Ray Donovan's Michael Esper) when she's not mothering her headstrong daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman). But Margaret's solid foundation gradually starts to shake. Abbie finds a mysterious tooth in her belongings, then gets into a bike accident. This coincides with Margaret beginning to notice the presence of a man (Tim Roth) in her vicinity. He's at a conference she's attending, at the mall, in a park. When she approaches him, he denies knowing her, but then uses her name, flashing a terrifying smile.
So how does Margaret know this man? And what does his reappearance mean to her life? Well, she explains it steadily in a humdinger of a monologue that grows progressively weirder as it goes. Margaret is telling this to an employee at her job (Angela Wong Carbone) who asks what was wrong and has no idea what she's in for. But we don't get to see this young woman's reactions until Margaret has finished her story. Semans lights her in chiaroscuro and stays trained on her face as she unemotionally recounts how she met this person while taking a gap year with her researcher parents. What starts as a familiar saga of an older man taking advantage of an impressionable girl goes in a disturbing direction that is also utterly bizarre. Hall completely sells every word. And the movie only gets stranger from there, unleashing a quietly terrifying Roth onto the audience.
Resurrection starts, like so much horror these days, with the notion that Margaret's paranoia might be unjustified, but it ends with an entirely literal shock. The result is electrifying, and I was buzzing for hours following my screening. I just couldn't believe it ended up there. It's a conclusion that's surreal and wacky and horrifying all at once without being bogged down in too much mythology. You're just going to have to see for yourself.