Andrew Semans’ sophomore feature, Resurrection premiered virtually at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. It’s a chilling and disturbing movie with a twist that is out of this world. The movie explores themes of motherhood, abuse, and loss within a family. Rebecca Hall, who made her directorial debut at Sundance last year with Passing, makes another outstanding, career-best performance. Tim Roth is also featured as a menacing and unhinged man from the past.
Everything about Margaret’s (Hall) life is perfect. She goes for morning runs and has a relationship with a co-worker. Margaret also raises her 17-year-old daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman) on her own. She is a disciplined, successful woman who has her life together. Her only real flaw is that she smothers her daughter too much. Margaret is extra protective of Abbie and wants to know her whereabouts all the time.
After Abbie lands at the hospital due to an accident, Margaret sets even more rules on her daughter. While Margaret is at a business conference, she sees a strange man in the crowd. She immediately bolts out the door and runs home to check that her daughter is safe. Soon after, the man named David (Roth) starts appearing everywhere, and when Margaret sees him at the park, she confronts him. At first, he pretends not to remember her and that she had introduced him to Abbie. Before he leaves, he smiles at her and he is missing a tooth. After their encounter at the park, Margaret puts extra locks and protection around the house. It drives her to the edge. Margaret spends her nights and days watching David’s every move.
Resurrection explores how significant can be manipulative and controlling in a relationship. Also, how victims can escape and lead a steady life. Margaret follows a routine and keeps her distance without getting romantically involved with anyone. Her number one priority is Abbie. But when David remerges into her life, Margret’s life turns upside down. David starts to control her as he did years ago. Even though she does not want to participate in his games, he still has some control over her. After years of getting out of an abusive headspace, Margaret is paranoid. She hears noises and has nightmares of incidents that caused her pain in the past.
Margaret confronts David at the park and tries to get him reported to the authorities. When asked whether he had approached or harassed her, they simply advise her to be careful. There is nothing they can do if he hasn’t made any advances. What she doesn’t tell the police is the history of their relationship and how it had accumulated over the years. The only person that she confessed to was her co-worker. In an eight-minute monologue, Hall delivers one of the best moments on screen. An emotional scene, audience will sit right at the edge of their seat.
Almost 20 years ago, when Margaret was 19 and David was much older, they began a relationship. It was manipulative and controlling. After she moved in with him, he demanded she do things that would later be rewarded. After a while, David’s “kindness” begins to harm Margaret. He forces her to put out cigarette buds on her skin and more. When Margaret gets pregnant with their son, things get even worse. Margaret to leave David behind and move across the pond to get away from him. Despite her efforts, David has once again found a way to grasp onto Margaret.
Resurrection shows how abusive relationships can harm a person, mentally and physically. The aftermath of their relationship leads Margaret to fall out of her routine, skip work and neglect her daughter. Her behavior scares Abbie and she leaves their home when she turns eighteen. Abbie tries to understand why her mother is behaving this way. Margaret doesn’t tell her about her relationship with David, afraid that it might hurt her even more. The cycle of abuse follows a victim long after an abusive relationship is over. Margaret does everything she can to fight it.
Semans’ screenplay is fantastic and takes time to set up the story. It’s dark and twisted, especially the ending, which will make the audience talk about the movie for days. Resurrection starts slow, but Semans shows how Margaret is affected by the nightmares and the emotional turmoil caused by David. Hall and Roth’s performance together is splendid. They balance each other’s performance, playing on opposite ends of the field. Together they create many moments that will make the stomach turn. The world of Resurrection is terrifyingly cold and dark. Semans knows how to make the audience uncomfortable. Resurrection perfectly defines and revamps the genre with its unexpected twist at the end of the movie.
For more of our Sundance coverage check out our review of Girl Picture here!
Nuha Hassan is a film and TV writer and reviewer, based in the Maldives. She is a Staff Writer at Film Cred, Off Colour, and Flip Screen. Apart from writing about film, she is a Video Editor at Dead Central. She studied Master of Media at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia. Her love for film started with David Fincher's The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Wes Anderson's The Grand Budapest Hotel. Her favourite comfort film is When Harry Met Sally.