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Monday, August 15, 2022
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    A monster movie about a bad – really bad – boyfriend

    Michael O’Sullivan

    THE WASHINGTON POST – Anyone for whom Rebecca Hall’s memorably enigmatic performance in last year’s The Night House is still fresh in mind – was the grieving widow plagued by the ghost of her husband, a suicide victim, or simply traumatised by grief? – will recognise aspects of that same conundrum in Resurrection.

    In the beautifully acted yet problematic new horror film from writer-director Andrew Semans, the actress plays Margaret, a woman so psychologically damaged by the fallout from a previous relationship that she, and we, can’t be certain whether she is being stalked by a supremely manipulative, even murderous former boyfriend (Tim Roth) or losing her mind.

    There is, of course, in both films, a third option presented, but it’s an especially cuckoo one in Resurrection, which takes a bizarre, allegorical turn in the climax: one that rivals the hallucinogenic third act of Men, yet another recent thriller about a woman crawling out from the wreckage of a bad relationship.

    What are horror movies trying to tell us about modern love? It may be better not to ask.

    Margaret is a successful Albany biotech executive; single mother of a teenage daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman); lover of a married co-worker, Peter (Michael Esper); and supervisor of a 20-something intern, Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone), whom she’s been counselling to get out of a bad romance. The way Margaret dispenses tough love to Gwyn and is a more than a bit overprotective of Abbie suggests she’s been through something in her past. As it turns out: boy, has she.

    Tim Roth (L) and Rebecca Hall in ‘Resurrection’. PHOTO: IFC Films/THE WASHINGTON POST

    When Roth’s David suddenly shows up 22 years after she left the much older man, Margaret confides something to Gwyn. It’s best not to reveal what, but her confession – which involves questionable behaviour, long buried, on her part but some truly monstrous actions on his – will curl your hair.

    Gwyn, for her part, doesn’t take Margaret literally. The story is that upsetting. And Abbie, when her mum starts freaking out about David’s reappearance, thinks Margaret is simply losing her grip on reality. So does Peter, who is falling in love with her.

    And maybe she is delusional.

    The police can’t do anything, because David hasn’t actually done anything either. Nothing actionable, anyway, although he appears to be a master of emotional torture. Roth and Hall are both excellent and carry the film for the first hour or so: she with her mix of instability and steel and he with his diabolical charm. But the story eventually morphs from a stalker drama into something much, much harder to swallow.

    Resurrection ultimately leaves us, like Gwyn, wondering if the story that’s just been dropped in our laps – a kind of sick, surreal poetry, fashioned out of curdled blood and guts – is a new breed of monster movie or some old-fashioned metaphor of loss made flesh.

    Sadly, given its acting pedigree, it doesn’t really work on either level.

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