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What Ever Happened to Baby Ben?

Wyatt Garfield/Sundance Institute

Resurrection (2022)

At first glance, “Resurrection” looks to be a thriller about a woman confronting the reappearance of her former abuser. The film calls her sanity into question in a misogynistic manner, then boasts a conceited genre-shifting climax that is more noxious than clever. Following “Here Before,” “Encounter,” “False Positive” et al., this gaslighting-as-narrative-device trope is now a very troublesome trend.

Margaret (Rebecca Hall) is a fiercely independent career woman and single mother. She provides emotional support and advice to her narcissistic subordinate Gwyn (Angela Wong Carbone). She goes for daily runs. She carries on an affair with her married colleague, Peter (Michael Esper). Everything in her life seems orderly and compartmentalized until her daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman), gets into an accident.

Then, while attending a biotech conference, Margaret experiences a panic attack at the sight of a certain man. As soon as she gets home, she becomes insufferably overbearing and controlling toward Abbie. She also appears withdrawn at professional settings. She sees him again while out shopping with Abbie. His presence is obviously triggering, but she nevertheless decides to approach him before exploring other options such as dialing 911.

She explains her history with the man, David (Tim Roth), to a particularly unsympathetic Gwyn: She met him when she was only 18. He charmed her parents first, but once they were gone he revealed himself to be a complete psychopath. He subjected her to a gauntlet of increasingly sadistic tests and cruel punishments. After he allegedly ate their baby, she escaped.

Fast forward 22 years, and she witlessly engages David again, naively thinking he’ll leave her and Abbie alone if she performs these “kindnesses” when told. What’s more, he claims their infant is still alive inside him.

This is where things get unnecessarily weird and nasty. Abusive relationships and post-traumatic stress syndrome are decidedly valuable topics to undertake, and “Resurrection” appears worthy of investment up to this point. But then writer-director Andrew Semans decides to flip the script and thrust everything into The Twilight Zone, trivializing the exploration of those weighty subject matters. In light of the post-“Passing” discourse – that Ms. Hall is in fact a woman of color – the film is especially unhinged and reckless in reducing a toxic relationship dynamic like this, loaded with unexplored racial implications, to what’s essentially a genre exercise.


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