The definitive mark of a great horror film is its ability to provoke a visceral reaction. The natural design of the genre is to instill fear and terror in an audience, and the best of the best makes you scream, send chills down your spine, and give you goosebumps. You physically watch projected images, but your brain is inspired to go into fight or flight mode, and your body reacts.
I thought about it a lot while watching writer/director Andrew Semans Resurrection, with Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth. As it unfolded, I found myself panting and recoiling frequently, but especially at the end, I felt physically sore after spending so much time with my arms and legs tightly stretched against my body.
Resurrection premiered as part of the all-virtual 2022 Sundance Film Festival slate, and I entered the film with high expectations – particularly buoyed by memories of Rebecca Hall’s phenomenal turn into David Bruckner The night house (the best horror feature of 2021). Not only does it make me want to see every horror project Hall is involved in from now on, but I was shocked to find one of the greatest performances Tim Roth has ever given, because his turn is scary and unforgettable.
Structurally speaking, it’s a “decent in the madness” story. Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is introduced as a successful biotech executive and single mother together and raising a teenage daughter (Grace Kaufman) who is preparing to leave for college. But it all starts to fall apart after just a quick look around a conference room as she attends an industry event. It is during this informal investigation that she catches a glimpse of a man from her past (Tim Roth), and his presence – his resurrection in her life, if you will – terrifies her so much that it begins to turn her whole life upside down.
Andrew Semans’ Resurrection is a spectacular psychological horror.
From its first frame, Resurrection immerses you in Margaret’s perspective, and it’s by never breaking the bond that the film is able to sink your teeth into you and make you terrified of tensing a muscle. You’re firmly attached without escaping the emotional rush the character experiences as she reacts to her greatest nightmares come to life, and Rebecca Hall’s exceptionally engaged performance makes the horror tangible and real.
There is a physical deterioration that accompanies the mental corrosion of Margaret in the story – the character who suffers from insomnia, incessant anxiety and malnutrition – and afterwards one feels an intense respect for what the actor put in the role. As you watch the movie, however, you’re just in awe of the character’s transformation and stunned by the rising stakes at the same time.
You understand and respect the horrors of Margaret’s past because of Rebecca Hall’s power alone – but what takes things to the next level in Resurrection is the breathtaking and diabolical character played by Tim Roth. What he does in the film effectively justifies every ounce of empathetic dread the audience experiences, as all of his energy feels beyond threatening and sinister. Truth be told, he doesn’t do much down to “action” for most of the movie, but it does ultimately speak to the higher level he operates on, with even simple lines of dialogue and simple shaking smiles. your nervous system like Margaret’s does.
There’s so much more to say about Resurrection, from its shocking and enigmatic conclusions to the perfect monologue delivered by Margaret in the second act… but it is also a film that is naturally best experienced with limited knowledge of the plot and the characters, and thus the wake of its premiere at Sundance really isn’t the time for an in-depth discussion. The movie hasn’t been released yet, but when it is, I’ll personally happily await the release date and the rush of reactions pouring in.
Stay tuned for updates, check out our 2022 movie release schedule to see all the movies slated for release by the end of the year, and stay tuned here at CinemaBlend for more. more on our coverage of the Sundance Film Festival.