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RESURRECTION (2022) review

July 28, 2022


written by: Andrew Semans
produced by: Tory Lenosky, Alex Scharfman, Drew Houpt, Lars Knudsen, Tim Headington & Lia Buman
directed by: Andrew Semans
rated: not rated
runtime: 103 min.
U.S. release date: July 29, 2022 (theatrical) & August 5, 2022 (rental)


“Resurrection” premiered this past January at Sundance and primarily earned buzz because it’s the latest suspense thriller starring Rebecca Hall. If you’re familiar with her work, you’ll know why a new film with her is something film enthusiasts single out. She’s one of the best actresses working today, typically elevating whatever she’s in and it just feels like any latest role is her best performance. That being said, she’s never been in anything quite like this disturbing psychological thriller from writer/director Andrew Semans is unlike anything you’ll see this year, especially the bonkers ending.

From the outside looking in, single mother Margaret (Hall) seemingly has it all together. She has a high-level position with a lucrative biotech corporation and resides out of a clean, minimalist apartment in Albany, New York. She keeps fit, running outdoors at an impressive clip. She comes across as composed and in control and does suffers no fools. At one point, Margaret is seen dispensing relationship advice to Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone), a work intern who looks up to her, in regards to her gaslighting, abusive boyfriend. “Sadists never understand why other people don’t enjoy their sadism as much as they do,” Margaret bluntly responds, encouraging the intern to stand up for herself and indicating she definitely has some experience with this.



A look at Margaret’s own relationships adds further dimensions to her character. She maintains an affair with Mike (Michael Esper), a married colleague from work, who shows up at her home at her request solely for sex when Margaret’s teenage daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman), isn’t around. Like other areas of her life, this is something Margaret has control over. She calls the shots and has created the lines that she will not allowed crossed. We see her relationship with her daughter, which is sweet and like any mother of a teenager, Margaret seems to be doing her best, but we also start to wonder about the limits she puts on Abbie. Her overprotective (more control) nature has affecting their relationship as well and the idea that this seventeen year-old will soon be moving off to college is frightening for Margaret.

But there’s always underlying reasons for behavior and “Resurrection” does a compelling job at peeling back the layers of Margaret’s psyche and certain trauma from her past, providing context to this intriguing character. Strange things start to occur, like Abbie finding a human molar in Margaret’s wallet one day and Margaret is horrified when she sees a charred baby corpse in her oven. These are scenes that question reality and confirm that the film is veering into unnerving albeit fascinating territory.

Then at a convention for work, Margaret has a panic attack after seeing a man across the meeting room that she recognizes. Visibly disturbed, she takes leaves the building quickly as if being pursued, shaken and finding it a challenge to catch her breath. This man is David (Tim Roth), who 22 years ago, began of disturbing game of control over an influential Margaret that left her shattered. But, she sees David now and continues to see him everywhere she goes – crossing a street, sitting on a park bench & seen at a department story – and her concern grows as her focus begins to hone in on protecting Abbie from him and their past together. This leads Margaret to stalk David, eventually confronting him and realizing his control over her isn’t just in her past after all this time.

Semans does an outstanding job of gradually laying out the unraveling of Margaret and how much of a hold David still has on her, as well leaving us to wonder who is the crazy one here. We wind up asking ourselves a lot of questions as we get pulled in to this horror story while composer Jim Williams (“Possessor” and “Titane”) delivers a curious and eerie score that accentuates our questions. Is what Margaret seeing real? Is David really there? If it is really him, what’s his plan?



Many of these questions will be answered as Semans gives Roth’s David more screen time, but even moreso after the first half of the film ends. It’s hard for us to understand specifically what’s going on with Margaret until about midway in “Resurrection”, when we see the character lay out her dark past on an unsuspecting Gwyn in an phenomenal eight-minute unbroken monologue scene that Hall delivers masterfully. This is where it all comes out and we put in to context the person we’ve watched up until this moment. Cinematographer Wyatt Garfield (“Beatriz at Dinner”) locks in on Hall as darkness slowly creeps up around her, consuming her entire body in a shroud. It’s an intense scene that Semans closes with a rare funny line, albeit one that comes from a place of awkward nervousness. Hall is simply amazing at conveying the transition of a confident and in control Margaret to a woman who is completely overcome by fear and paranoia.

Once Margaret and David reunite, “Resurrection” transforms into a highly specific contest of control, with each character vying for power over the other. Of course, getting into any more details will lead to spoiler territory, but needless to say, I would’ve never guessed where Semans was taking this story. It’s safe to say thought that David hasn’t come back to ask for forgiveness or make amends, bur rather to continue where he and Margaret left off. Almost as if a master manipulator was bored and decided to revisit a prized victim. Truly unsettling stuff.

With each step, Semans is crafting an intense story of psychological warfare with “Resurrection”, detailing the gradual implosion of a woman losing her grip on reality when trauma from her past resurfaces. It’s a absorbing tale that is boosted by the acting prowess of Hall, but it’s also
likely to be uncomfortably relatable for some viewers who’ve tried to move forward from such mental anguish experiences in their past. Semans drops hints of cracks in Margaret’s psyche even before she spots David, but it’s definitely his sick and twisted game of control that sends “Resurrection” into disturbing and bizarre territory. “Resurrection” relies on Hall to carry the anxious journey we go on with Margaret and she nails it at every intense and unbelievable turn.

Semans has a steady and deliberate hand here, moving the conflict of “Resurrection” into a satisfying and utterly bonkers conclusion with graphic violence and a somewhat ambiguous final shot that questions the reality of what we just witnessed. Overall, it’s certainly a different and unique vision the helmer offers here and it made me wonder what inspired him to weave such a twisted tale. I’m looking forward to his next project.


RATING: ***1/2


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