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Sundance movie review: 'Resurrection' is an intense, creepy thriller

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Sundance movie review: 'Resurrection' is an intense, creepy thriller
Rebecca Hall is on guard in "Resurrection." Photo courtesy of the Sundance Institute

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 24 (UPI) -- Resurrection, which premiered virtually at the Sundance Film Festival, is an intense thriller. Anchored by performances by Rebecca Hall and Tim Roth, Resurrection delivers the shocks while never quite going where you might expect.

Margaret (Hall) has a rigid, controlled lifestyle. She counsels her office colleagues on their dysfunctional relationships. She sleeps with her boyfriend (Michael Esper) completely on her own terms, making him follow her rules.

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When Margaret goes for runs, she runs as intensely as Tom Cruise in action movies, complete with chopping the air. She's a bit overprotective of her daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman), who will be 18 in two weeks.

But it's when she sees David Moore (Roth) at a conference that Margaret falls apart. She Googles his name to see what he's been up to. She has nightmares and it's obvious David did something to her. When she reveals what their relationship was about halfway through the movie, it's more horrifying than you'd prepared for.

Margaret's routine is a compelling introduction to her. There's nothing wrong with knowing what you want and settling for no less. Her overprotection will inevitably face resistance from a teenager, but she also tries to be a cool mom.

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By the time fear becomes Margaret's status quo, it is equally compelling. After The Night House, Hall finds new colors of fear to express. She initially reacts to being faced by. someone she escaped long ago, but it gradually becomes even more insidious.

David represents Roth at his creepiest. There are lots of villains on Roth's resume, but David is a hybrid of real-life abuser and relentless movie monster.

Usually in these kinds of thrillers, the psycho presents a nice guy image to fool everyone and make them disbelieve the hero. David doesn't bother with that pretense. He gaslights Margaret and proceeds into twisted psychological torture. But, Margaret is ferocious and she can fight back with her wits.

There are other supporting characters in Margaret's circle who weigh in on her breakdown, but Resurrection is mainly a two-hander between Roth and Hall. Really, with those two powerhouses, nobody better get in their way.

For the sake of preserving twists and surprises, that's about all you'd want to know about Resurrection up front. If you like Hall and Roth, know that writer/director Andrew Semans squeezes the vice around them for 103 minutes until the cathartic conclusion.

Fred Topel, who attended film school at Ithaca College, is a UPI entertainment writer based in Los Angeles. He has been a professional film critic since 1999, a Rotten Tomatoes critic since 2001 and a member of the Television Critics Association since 2012. Read more of his work in Entertainment.

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