Resurrection Review: Rebecca Hall is Bringing Out the Dead in an Excellent Thriller

What happens when you put two of the world’s best working actors in Tim Roth and Rebecca Hall in a thriller opposite each other? You get a killer film. Resurrection is a fantastic, character-driven horror-thriller that puts its two leads, mainly Hall, in the forefront. Hall had a magnificent 2021 from her Oscar-snubbed directorial debut, Passing, to her career-best performance in The Night House (though that may be tested with Resurrection). Resurrection is sure to be a divisive film, with very few answers given to the viewer, but it’s absolutely one of 2022’s best.

Margaret (Rebecca Hall) lives a pretty standard life as a couple’s therapist (though this is ironic considering the fact that she’s hooking up with a married man) and is going through the standard emotional roller coaster that all parents go through as they prep to let their child go off to college. But Margaret’s mundane life has a wrench thrown into it when David (Tim Roth), a lover of her past, reappears in her life and begins to dig up the darkest part of Margaret’s past.

A still from Resurrection, courtesy of IFC Films.

The beauty of Resurrection all begins with the film’s aesthetic. I’m no lens expert, but it appears that director Andrew Semans opted for a 1.85:1 widescreen aspect ratio. Black borders fill the left and right sides of the screen, not to the degree of the 4:3 aspect ratio a la The Lighthouse, but enough to heighten the claustrophobia felt by Margaret for much of the runtime. Add in the fact that the film has a grainy look that resembles old thrillers of the past — specifically the 1970s — and you have a unique, almost vintage look for a film set in the present day. It’s just so satisfying to gaze at.

And there are fascinating themes drawn upon throughout writer and director Andrew Semans’ stellar plot. Exploitation was recently explored in Jordan Peele’s Nope, but I’d argue that it’s tackled far more profoundly in Resurrection. I won’t go into the knitty-gritty details of Margaret and David’s past, but exploitation, with an added bonus of an unhealthy obsession with religious figures, are explored. There’s this weird, cult-like relationship that is really only explicitly touched on in a phenomenal eight-minute monologue delivered by Hall.

A still from Resurrection, courtesy of IFC Films.

Margaret’s relationship with her daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman) is collateral damage from her story with David. There’s some of the “bird fleeing the nest” story in Resurrection, as Margaret’s daughter is prepping for college, but once David re-emerges into Margaret’s life, she goes into a panic and has a breakdown. This puts a serious strain on a relationship that was already on the verge of a breaking point since Abbie is still a teenager.

Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth are simply fantastic, which should come as no surprise given each of their resumes. Hall is going to get a lot of well-deserved praise for one eight-minute monologue in particular, which is absolutely stunning to watch and was done completely as written in the script, but Hall is also great at portraying the conflict that Margaret has between her mama bear instincts that result in a boy who cried wolf-like scenario. As Margaret descends into madness, you see the color begin flushing from Hall’s face. It’s such an amazing performance from an actress on the hot streak of her career.

A still from Resurrection, courtesy of IFC Films.

Tim Roth is such a magical actor that can be subdued or as big as Al Pacino when needed. Upon first meeting David in Resurrection, you can feel something is off with him. Margaret and David have their first real encounter in the film at a park — I believe it’s Washington Square Park if my memory serves me right — and David spends the first few minutes gaslighting Margaret. This all happens far too early in the film, so we know that he’s telling a lie when denying having any recollection of who Margaret is. It’s a great scene, and there are subtle hints to things set up earlier in the film that is just magic. And Roth deserves plenty of props for his ability to flip the switch from normal to flat-out creepy. No offense to Roth, but let’s face it: He’s not a physical freak of nature with the physique of the Hulk. Yet, perhaps due to his performance, I would not want to see David out in public anywhere.

Resurrection‘s crescendo takes place in a hotel room. Again, I won’t go into specifics, but this is where the film takes its biggest leap. This ending, in particular, is quite divisive — particularly with its final shot — but it’s a rewarding conclusion to the boiling point that is reached between Margaret and David. Hall and Roth match intensity by the end, and Semans just lets his two leads go at it. The film’s third act does create some imagery akin to a certain sequence in Titane, so do with that information as you will. Resurrection is far more subtle than Titane, but when it goes to 100, buckle up.

A still from Resurrection, courtesy of IFC Films.

And I hate to compare a film like Resurrection to any MCU project, but the final minute — and specifically, the last shot — harkens back to something seen in a scene with Wanda in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. The final shot is bone-chilling and was the cherry on top that stayed on my mind way after the credits rolled. Resurrection leaves you with a lot to ponder, and that last scene and shot are simply haunting.

I don’t suspect that Resurrection is going to land with all audiences — it’s wacky, to say the least — but it creates so much intrigue along the way that I imagine you’ll be hooked. In the end, it’s really a character study of two characters, their past, and what their interactions can build up to. Tim Roth and Rebecca Hall continue to prove why they are two of Hollywood’s finest (how neither has won an Oscar yet is well beyond my comprehension) and you won’t be able to take your eyes off either of them whether. Above all else, Resurrection is bold, something that is seldom said about films nowadays.

I can’t promise that you’ll love Resurrection, but like the uneasy smiles that David gives in the film, it will live in your head, rent-free.

Final Score: 88%

IFC Films will release Resurrection in select theaters on July 29 and on VOD on August 5.

Andrew Korpan

Andrew Korpan

Film "critic" and entertainment journalist whose work has been featured in Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, /Film and Coastal House Media.
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