A Review of Rebecca Hall’s Resurrection
think back to Dating of the Third Kind. We know Richard Dreyfus’ Roy Neary isn’t crazy, we were right there when he saw the blinding lights. But in life, when someone starts breaking down, talking about visions and supernatural forces, the right thing to do is to urge them to seek help. movies like Resurrection are great because they blur the line between how you would act in real life and what’s appropriate for a movie.
Resurrection features the ever-exceptional Rebecca Hall, at the top of her game as an executive at a biotech company. Her character, Margaret, lives in an apartment as a single mother whose daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) is preparing to leave for college. Margaret seems satisfied with the purely physical encounters she shares with a married colleague (Michael Esper). She is tough and decisive at work, where she is almost idolized by an intern (Angela Wong Carbone). Its community includes folk restaurants on one block, soulless parking lots on the other, and just around the corner, creepy modern buildings that seem borrowed from Conquest of the Planet of the Apes. (The film is shot in Albany, New York, an oddly cinematic borough that does extraordinarily well in close-up here.)
Writer-director Andrew Semans isn’t shy about showing cracks in the facade of his skill, especially when Margaret unexpectedly sees (that is him, right?) of David (Tim Roth) sucking his teeth and looking up at Nope good. Strange visions follow one another. Some are dreams (a baby in the oven: unpleasant!) and some are real (a dent in Abbie’s wallet: not as bad, but certainly confusing!). But after enough uninvited encounters with David, Margaret contacts the police – who can do nothing, despite her admission that he is Margaret’s ex-boyfriend, who has been missing for two decades, and that she would very much like he stays away.
With David back in town, Margaret’s nerves quickly fray and Abbie having an accident doesn’t help matters. Margaret is clearly the victim of some kind of abuse, but exactly what happened – and how David so easily puts her back under his thumb – is the hook of this movie that we’ll take every measure not to spoil. The twist may rattle some audience members who like to stick with reality, but supernatural horror fans will love it. They may even think, “Gee, i never really saw this before!”
It’s all revealed in a tour de force monologue between Margaret and her intern, which unfolds in one of those scenes that you don’t realize is one take until it’s over. . Even after all this time apart, David maintains an unsettling hold on Margaret and he is able to manipulate her in degrading ways. She starts walking around the city barefoot, just because of her (literal) marching orders. Her daughter and her quasi-boyfriend try to intervene (or at least make her realize she’s behaving irrationally), but to use the Close Encounters example from above – what if the alien was actually real?
In the third act, Hall delves further into the peekaboo nature of the performance; it is not something that could be done in half measures. (She’s credited as one of the executive producers.) For what will surely be pigeonholed as a horror movie, there isn’t much gore, until there is, anyway. Semans opens the film with very clean lines and spare interiors, only to descend into glorious chaos at the end.
The most terrifying thing, however, is how a clearly intelligent and capable person can so quickly be reduced to an automaton with the snap of a finger. (And Tim Roth isn’t even handsome in there – he’s a fat redneck with a big belly, and that’s even a major plot point!) We’ve all known wonderful people who, for a reason, won’t let their losing partner down and we can’t figure out why. Resurrection takes this to dark and vicious extremes, and the image of a giddy Rebecca Hall wandering around Albany without shoes works as a banal symbol for this all-too-common type of madness.