“A sadist never understands why someone isn’t enjoying his sadism as much as he is.”
Andrew Semans’ Resurrection explores that exact concept from a line delivered by Rebecca Hall who plays Margaret, whose life with a successful career, teen daughter and secret sexual relationship is upended by a figure from her past, David Moore (Tim Roth).
David’s reappearance sets Margaret on a path toward mental breakdown, as the film goes on to explore themes of power and control, pride, gaslighting, motherhood and security.
We can’t say much more specifically regarding what takes place in the script, since the actions David and Margaret take in their sick, psychological game, along with the nuanced details of their backstory, will leave you shaken from experiencing them first-hand. What we can say is that Resurrection, Semans’ second feature, will make you wonder if what you’re seeing should be taken at face value, talk about it days later and think of it years from now.
Much like her work in 2020 Sundance film The Night House, Hall expertly conveys her character’s trauma and paranoia, particularly during a monologue that was only shot in two takes (the second having nothing to do with her first delivery). In other words, she’s incredibly gifted at playing someone losing their shit. Semans recommends viewers “watch her eyebrows,” since Hall tells so much through her expressions. David isn’t the conniving villain you’d expect, but, at first glance, an everyday Joe whose wickedness slowly unravels.
It all takes place amid very plain sets, grounded in reality, coupled with sound that is just the opposite, reinforcing the twisted plot playing out on the screen.
While the film came together during the COVID-19 pandemic, Seman told viewers of the Q&A that it didn’t change much in the script, which already featured dialogue-heavy scenes with only a few characters. Resurrection was formerly on The Black List, a list of unproduced yet promising screenplays waiting for producers. “I just could not stop reading it,” said Resurrection producer Alex Scharfman, about his first look at the script.
Read all of Salt Lake magazine’s 2022 Sundance reviews.