The Resurrection (2022) of Relationship Horrors Makes for Chilling Psychological Thrills
First Non-Festival Release: July 29, 2022 (Limited Theatrical Release)
Director: Andrew Semans
Writer: Andrew Semans
Runtime: 103 Minutes
Starring: Rebecca Hall, Tim Roth, Grace Kaufman
Where to Watch: Check out where to find it here
Years after escaping an abusive relationship, Margaret (Rebecca Hall) has done well for herself as a confident businesswoman and loving mother to her daughter Abbie (Grace Kaufman). When a chance encounter with the man who ruined her young adulthood, Rebecca must confront David (Tim Roth) for the horrors he subjected her to for so long ago. His unexpected obtrusion carries a twist, however, with news regarding her late son, the child she was convinced David killed. Rebecca’s world comes crashing down and she must choose to fight back against David or submit to his cruel desires.
Harrowing psychological horror film, Resurrection depicts long-term effects of intimate partner violence thanks to top tier performances.
Psychological horror with a frighteningly realistic twist, Resurrection toys with the confines of a traditional “woman in peril” setup in surprising ways. The first half of the film relies on the idea that Margaret is no longer a reliable narrator. Is there really an abusive man coming out of the woodwork to torment Margaret or is she simply panicked that her own child is growing up and leaving her?
The barrage of imagery and ideas of babies in peril suggest that either could be true. What makes this more compelling is that the psychological unwinding of Margaret isn’t predicated on whether or not it is real. Her own guilt and fears propel the story regardless. The mystery simply adds to the narrative, making audiences sympathetic to her plight and concerned for her mental health, yet unwilling to decide if she truly has gone crazy.
Depicting intimate partner violence and its lasting effects, Resurrection takes audiences on a disturbing journey alongside Margaret in coming to terms with her past abuse. Seemingly out of nowhere, Margaret believes that she is being followed by the man who hurt her so long ago. Once she meets with him, the audience watches helplessly as Margaret agrees to subject herself to cruel and humiliating abuses, sickeningly described as ‘kindnesses’ by her abuser, to ensure the safety of Abbie.
The depths of her love for Abbie eclipse her own self-preservation. Unfortunately, the depths of her own trauma cause a rift between the two, further propelling Margaret into isolation. Resurrection aptly shows that the ultimate goal of an abusive partner is to break down and isolate their prey forcing them to submit to their wickedness.
Rebecca Hall’s tour-de-force performance of Margaret supports the underlying commentary of the film. From the get-go, Hall imbues a sense of vulnerability behind Margaret’s steely toughness that makes her more human than archetype. One of the first moments the audience is introduced to Margaret is a coaching session with her college intern Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone) giving her a rousing pep talk on the importance of standing up for herself. In that moment, it’s clear without any explanation that Margaret needed to hear that for herself when she was younger. This sort of empowerment spiel is repeated multiple times throughout Resurrection, showing that Margaret uses this as the answer for past traumas and repeats it to others for her own benefit rather than theirs. Hall’s knack for intertwining the humanity of Margaret through the insanity of her circumstances is brilliant.
Little moments like this make Resurrection a powerful statement against the torture that many people go through when escaping abusive relationships and power dynamics. Director Andrew Semans does a wonderful job of grounding the film in reality to show how true to life this situation can be. Obviously, there are moments of sensationalism for the sake of the narrative, but Resurrection is incredibly realistic. From its portrayal of trauma and the effects it has on the survivor and those around them, the fact that Resurrection plays so straight makes it even more terrifying.
There is so much to say about this wonderful film, but not enough words to fit it all into one review. Resurrection is a devastating look at trauma and how it shapes a person for better or worse. The downbeat psychological chiller of the year, be prepared for a deeply unsettling descent into the horrors grounded in reality, which makes it all the more eerie. Rebecca Hall’s performance is electrifying, giving Margaret depth and vulnerability easily making it easy to empathize with her despite her refusals to get help. For fans of psychological horror, Resurrection is an excellent choice for a battle of wills between two indominable forces.
Overall Score? 7.5/10