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More than psychologically punishing, 'Resurrection' is psychologically monstrous

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Courtesy of Sundance Institute | photo by Wyatt Garfield
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Rebecca Hall in 'Resurrection'

There’s a long cinematic tradition of putting female leads through the absolute wringer, and British actor Rebecca Hall has lately carved out a niche for herself filling exactly these kinds of roles. One thing about Hall is that she commits.

Resurrection is her most recent, as Hall plays Margaret, a Type A businesswoman who keeps tight control, and goes hard. She’s visibly irritated by the small condensation ring a cup leaves on her desk. She doesn’t so much go for a jog as she imitates Tom Cruise chasing down a fleeing motorcycle.

But a major crack opens when she sees Tim Roth across the room at a conference, and it’s clear this is not good. She immediately begins to hyperventilate and rushes out. Wouldn't you know it, Roth pops up again, and the movie becomes a stalker thriller, as Margaret tries to take steps to protect herself and her teenage daughter, although we still aren't sure if Roth is even real or if Margaret is having a mental breakdown.

And then a buzzy and propulsive thriller hits a scene that’s destined to become at least semi-famous, as Hall explains what’s happening. My thought process went something like, "it was all really moving along and then we have this exposition dump right here in the middle? It kind of kills the momentum OH NO WAIT SAY WHAT NOW?"

You cannot conceive of what’s going to come out of her mouth.

Writer and director Andrew Semans makes the movie about more than just what happens—he disorients us but keeps us glued to the screen, no matter how we might feel about what we’re seeing. Hall is way more than game, turning up the intensity higher than we ever could have expected. And Roth maintains a horrifying, controlled menace that gets deep under your skin. There's a quick shot where he bares his teeth that made me feel a turn in my stomach. To say Resurrection is psychologically punishing makes it sound like you have to work to get through it, and that’s not quite right. Resurrection is psychologically monstrous.

Resurrection is on VOD August 5th.

Fletcher Powell has worked at KMUW since 2009 as a producer, reporter, and host. He's been the host of All Things Considered since 2012 and KMUW's movie critic since 2016. Fletcher is a member of the Critics Choice Association.