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'Resurrection' review: Rebecca Hall is unnerving in sinister thriller

Not for the squeamish or easily vexed, Andrew Semans' psychological thriller leaves a mark.

Rebecca Hall is force of nature in "Resurrection," playing a woman traumatized by a mysterious ex-lover. Tim Roth is fearless, creepy and shiver-inducing as the ex-lover; it's the best he's been in decades. Both are award-worthy in a film that plays its hand close to its vest but is very tough to shake. 

Hall plays Margaret, a single mother in Albany, New York, whose high school-aged daughter is getting ready to go off to college. Margaret is having an affair with a co-worker that she keeps sort of hidden, and she has things in her life seemingly under control. But the way she runs while exercising — her arms perfectly bent at the elbows, her pace at a sprint — is a clue as to how tightly wound she is inside.  

Things start to unravel when she spots David (Roth), her ex-, at first at a work conference and later in town. It's not just that she's shocked to see him. She's physically sickened, revolted, and overcome with fear by his mere presence. Who is David, and why does he have such an effect on her? 

The answer is a doozy, and writer-director Andrew Semans is working with several themes here, including the insecurities of motherhood, confronting empty nester syndrome and the pain and trauma associated with mental abuse.

The almost cult-like hold David has over Margaret isn't easily explained or rationalized, and Semans goes out of his way to avoid easy answers. But it kicks Hall's performance into overdrive, and when she tells someone "impede my mission once more and I'll beat you 'til you're dead," she's seething with so much intensity that it's impossible not to believe her.  

Hall, tremendous in last year's "The Night House," has become her own brand of elevated horror, and her willingness to work within the space shows her fearlessness as an actor. She brings the material up to her level, and even if "Resurrection" doesn't answer every question it poses, Hall — who at one point delivers an unbroken 7-minute monologue — is unforgettable. She proves the answers don't matter as much as the experience.




Not rated: Language, adult themes, sexual situations, disturbing themes

Running time: 104 minutes