Resurrection [Sundance Film Festival Review]

Rebecca Hall never ceases to amaze. Coming hot on the heels of last year's The Night House, she gives another knockout performance in the thriller Resurrection, which premiered at the 2022 Sundance Film Festival. This is not a conventional thriller, though. Writer/director Andrew Semans digs deep into themes of trauma, control, guilt, and abusiveness. The movie builds to one of those gut-punch endings where you walk away dazed by where the story has taken you. In short, it's a stunning picture.

Hall plays Margaret, the single mother of teenage daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman). She's successful in business, presenting as a calm, controlled figure. All that unravels when she attends a conference and sees David Moore (Tim Roth), a figure from her past. His presence immediately panics her, and when she subsequently sees him in a department store and a local park, Margaret becomes convinced that he's stalking her. This, in turn, sends her spiraling down into fear and paranoia.

I don't want to get in any way specific about the connection between these two characters. Margaret explains it in a harrowing monologue, accomplished in one unbroken closeup, that lasts for several minutes. Once we know the extent of David's monstrous nature, it's impossible not to be on edge for the rest of the movie. He is a gaslighter, a manipulator, and an abuser of the sickest order.

The terror of Resurrection comes from how it depicts the ease with which David re-casts his spell over Margaret many years after their last encounter. He has trained her to think a certain way. Even though she has broken free of his grip and established herself as a successful woman, all he has to do is make a very specific reference to something (which I won't reveal) and she's taken right back. Rarely has the grasp of an abusive man been so menacingly conveyed onscreen. The film is incisive and scary in showing how that dynamic works.

Hall is typically brilliant, powerfully dramatizing how Margaret's mental health is thrown into tumult. She brings a vibe of desperation, as the character fears for Abbie, who thinks her mom has just gone nuts. Then, after walking Margaret all the way to the brink, she does the exact right thing for the story, performing an act that makes us wonder if this woman is taking control or utterly losing it. The skill with which Hall does this is awe-inspiring. As David, Tim Roth exudes a quiet, narcissistic sense of evil. You'll quickly grow to hate this guy, as you should.

Resurrection's finale may be divisive among some viewers. The movie goes to an extreme place in its last ten minutes. Then again, the whole point of the story is that there's a breaking point. People who have been abused to the extent that Margaret has either implode or explode. Is the ending earned? I believe it is. Semans makes a statement about the severe damage abuse causes. In another scenario, what happens could have come off as cheap or exploitative. With Rebecca Hall at the center, it caps off a film that goes to increasingly intense places because doing so is emotionally honest. These are 103 of the most nerve-rattling minutes I'll have at the movies all year.

Resurrection is unrated, but contains adult language, sexual content, and graphic violence. The running time is 1 hour and 43 minutes.