23rd Jun2022

Sundance London 2022: ‘Resurrection’ Review

by Matthew Turner

Stars: Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman, Michael Esper, Angela Wong Carbone | Written and Directed by Andrew Semans

Rebecca Hall follows her terrific turn in The Night House with yet another stunning horror performance in Resurrection, a twisted psychological thriller from writer-director Andrew Semans (his second feature, after 2012’s Nancy, Please). By turns chilling and disturbing, it’s a gripping study of trauma and madness.

Hall plays Margaret, a successful businesswoman in upstate New York, whose teenage daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) is on the verge of leaving for college. Margaret’s life is rigidly controlled and ordered, until she spots David (Tim Roth) at a conference and has a panic attack that sends her spiralling into terror. Soon, Margaret begins seeing David everywhere, triggering memories of their horrific past together. But is David’s current threat all in her head, or is something much darker going on?

It’s a crying shame that the Academy tends to overlook horror performances when it comes to Oscars, because in a just and perfect world, Hall would be a shoo-in for a Best Actress nomination. She’s nothing short of sensational here, delivering a powerfully affecting performance as a woman desperately trying to hold onto her sanity and composure while battling intense psychological trauma.

Roth, in turn, is equally good as David, underplaying it to unnerving effect and exuding some supremely creepy vibes in the process – his twisted smile alone is enough to induce shudders. There’s also strong support from Kaufman, Angela Wong Carbone (as Margaret’s underling, Gwyn) and Michael Esper (as Margaret’s married employee-slash-frequent hook-up).

Seman’s genre-savvy script goes to some disturbing places, not least in a jaw-dropping eight minute monologue scene (which Hall delivers in a single, unbroken take) where Margaret tells a dumbfounded Gwyn all the horrific details of her history with David. On a similar note, Resurrection‘s script cleverly incorporates elements of trashy ’90s thrillers (woman stalked by dodgy ex, etc), while keeping the audience guessing as to exactly how much of what we’re seeing might be in Margaret’s head. It’s also the sort of film that encourages interpretation – e.g. it could easily be read as Margaret’s extreme reaction to a severe case of imminent empty nest syndrome.

Seman’s direction is extremely impressive (particularly in his use of reflective surfaces), aided by Wyatt Garfield’s brightly lit cinematography and some striking production design work from Anna Kathleen, including a shock special effect that’s truly gruesome. In addition, the supremely tense atmosphere is heightened by a superb score from Titane composer Jim Williams.

In short, this is a superbly made, brilliantly acted psychological thriller that gets deep under your skin. It also ends with one of the best final shots you’ll see all year and confirms Semans as a horror talent to watch.

**** 4/5

Resurrection screened as part of this year’s London Sundance Film Festival.


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