Sundance 2022: Resurrection Is a Dread-Soaked Psychological Nightmare

Image Courtesy of The Sundance Institute

Resurrection isn’t at all what I was expecting. In an evening, I planned to watch four films, beginning with You Won’t Be Alone and continuing through Hatching, Nanny, and, finally, Resurrection. I was up all night but wanted to end on a film I had lower expectations for based on the synopsis—or lack of one—in the event I fell asleep. Clearly, that did not happen, or I wouldn’t be writing about the film. As a matter of fact, it was not only my favorite of the movies I watched that evening but among my favorite films seen at the festival. Don’t get me wrong, I wanted to see as many films as I could at this year’s festival and, honestly, most of the movies I was able to see were better than I expected. I initially chose Resurrection because of Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth. Hall is following up one of the best horror films of 2021, The Night House, with a film that is currently, for me, in the running for one of the best horror films of 2022. 

Hall plays Margaret, a commanding force of organization and success at work and home. At work, she’s a mentor to her intern Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone), providing advice to the young professional in her personal life involving a bad boyfriend. She and her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman) have a very close relationship that’s on the verge of being tested as Abbie prepares to go away to college. Asking to spend her remaining nights at home hanging with friends, Abbie prepares to head out for the evening, telling her mother about a strange find. The presence of a tooth scars the evening in ominous foreshadowing, and it isn’t long before we meet the tooth’s proprietor and understand the veiled threat. 

David’s (Roth) mere presence in the well-collected Margaret’s life is enough to evoke a fight or flight response. After seeing him at a work conference, Margaret shatters, feeling an urgent need to protect the life she’s built. Then, she begins noticing him everywhere. As I’ve said in other reviews, I don’t often wade too deep into movie synopses or try to learn too much about the film before I see it. Any research is usually done post-viewing. In Resurrection’s case, it would have ruined much of the fun built by the cat and mouse story the movie sets up. What David brings with him is the past, and it’s more maniacal than you could possibly imagine, upending Margaret’s life in every way possible.

In a powerful confession scene from Margaret, we learn of her relationship with David. Years of manipulation, depression, and psychological torture left Margaret an anxious mess, taking her years to overcome. Now in the US, Margaret changed her surname following the death of the then couple’s infant son, something she couldn’t forgive him or herself for. Still, it isn’t long before Margaret finds herself indoctrinated by David’s toxicity after his insistence that their baby Ben is alive, living inside him. Margaret can’t reconcile if this is a lie or if David is capable of the profundity of his supernatural claim. Strings over a heartbeat score create a pulse-pounding experience when Margaret initially confronts David, making the tension more palpable and alluding to a type of fear that could break anyone.

Resurrection director Andrew Semans sits on stone steps
Director Andrew Semans | Image Courtesy of The Sundance Institute

With her college-bound daughter’s departure imminent, it isn’t hard to see an empty nest paranoia plotline. The natural need for a parent to want to keep their children safe is primal. When the story reveals Margaret’s age when she met David and how easy it was for her naivety toward him to become something that felt like love despite his abusive tendencies, the connection is made to the college-bound Abbie. Following her conversation with Gwyn and an accident involving Abbie at the start of the movie, the psychological component that Margaret can no longer keep her daughter safe from the world is achingly present. Her initial reaction is to shelter herself and Abbie from the risk factors she’s unable to account for. It’s beautifully set up and is likely to be instantly discussed as the lights come up in the theaters.  

Resurrection’s ending is incredible as well, taking the metaphor one step beyond and becoming just as dark and surreal as it can. The film’s last moment gives the sense of last Sundance’s midnight horror gem Censor’s final moments, instilling a sense of allusion to an alternate narrative. However, based on Resurrection’s powerful lead performance from Hall, you can never assume anything, and even the ambiguity becomes frightening. The film also produces one of the most messed-up dream sequences in recent memory. Something not for the faint of heart, but compelling enough to fill you with existential dread, especially where it’s told out of context. 

Roth and Hall are powerhouse actors. Roth always shines as a villain, but he is particularly brilliant as the sinister David. On the other hand, Rebecca Hall now has me running through her back catalog of films. Between her enthralling performances in Resurrection and The Night House, I’m entirely captivated and have a feeling I may have missed something in the talented actress’ portfolio I shouldn’t. Her portrayal of grief parallels that of Hereditary’s Toni Collette in that neither will give up on their children, even after death.

Writer-director Andrew Semans is another name I want to know more about. Resurrection is Semans’ sophomore film but’s he has my attention enough to seek his debut. The subtlety and psychology of Resurrection are arced over excellent pacing and a mesmerizing story. I loved this movie. Resurrection is a smart, original, and intense film with spellbinding performances and superb directing. It’s incredible to me now that I thought I might miss it. Don’t sleep on this one. It’s shocking and entertaining.  

Resurrection is currently being played as part of the Sundance Film Festival.  

Looking for more horror from Sundance Film Festival 2022? We’ve got you:

“Sundance 2022: Emergency Is Gripping Social Horror”

“Sundance 2022: You Won’t Be Alone Is Ambitious Yet Disconnected”

“Sundance 2022: Speak No Evil and Modern Manners”

“Sundance 2022: Dual Is a Dark Comedy for Lanthimos Fans”

“Sundance 2022: Fresh Is Cannibalistic Fun You’ll Just Devour”

“Sundance 2022: Master Achieves High Honors”

“Sundance 2022: Watcher Falters in Incongruent Polanski Inspired Thriller”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Written by Sean Parker

Living just outside of Boston, Sean has always been facinated by what horror can tell us about contemporary society. He started writing music reviews for a local newspaper in his twenties and found a love for the art of thematic and symbolic analysis. Sean joined Horror Obsessive at it's inception, and is currently the site's Creative Director. He produces and edits the weekly Horror Obsessive podcast for the site as well as his interviews with guests. He has recently started his foray into feature film production as well, his credits include Alice Maio Mackay's Bad Girl Boogey, Michelle Iannantuono's Livescreamers, and Ricky Glore's upcoming Troma picture, Sweet Meats.

Intro credits showing that the film in question was directed by Terence FIsher

Terence Fisher and Hammer Horror

The key artwork for the 23rd Nevermore Film Festival

Lineup Announced for the 23rd Nevermore Film Festival