The new horror film “Resurrection” has utterly terrified its virtual Sundance audience, winning over critics with writer-director Andrew Semans’ twisted look into how obsession and fear can destroy a person’s mind.
The film stars Rebecca Hall as Margaret, a high-powered exec moving up in the world, with a 17-year-old prepared to head off to college. But when an abusive, older former boyfriend (Tim Roth) suddenly shows up again threatening to use a secret to destroy her life, the scars of her past threaten to consume her whole as she begins having nightmarish hallucinations and clings to her daughter right as she’s getting ready to strike out on her own.
In an interview at TheWrap’s virtual Sundance studio, Semans said “Resurrection” was partially inspired by his own fears as an expectant father of failing to keep his child safe, which led him to look at parental vigilante films like the “Taken” series. But he had trouble figuring out how he wanted to put a spin on the subgenre until a real-life crisis arrived.
“Someone I knew became involved in an abusive relationship with a manipulative, toxic person,” he said. “I was witnessing this relationship firsthand and I was trying to understand what was happening and help them in any way I could. I became interested and terrified in the techniques that these toxic people use to control and manipulate their victims…and the more I looked into that the more it began to inform the story.”
Rebecca Hall has been on a hot streak of late, earning critical acclaim for her performance in the horror film “The Night House” and for her directorial debut on the Netflix drama “Passing” starring Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. In “Resurrection,” she is tasked with playing a character who slowly unravels as her anger and fear towards her abuser grows, with one scene involving a nearly ten-minute monologue where she reveals the horrifying memories of her past.
Semans said Hall was one of the most spectacular actors he’s ever worked with and was surprised by how quickly she settled into such a challenging role.
“It became very clear early on that I had to do almost nothing. She knew her character so well and came so ready to perform that frequently we wouldn’t have any discussion about the scene. We would just light it and roll the camera and I would just become a very appreciative observer.”
Watch more remarks from Semans in the clip above.
TheWrap’s Sundance Studio is presented by NFP and National Geographic Documentary Films.