earlier this year, we featured resurrection as a featured theme at the sundance film festival. Now, writer/director Andrew Semans’ riveting psychological thriller hits theaters and on VoD. So what better time to delve into the belly of this shocking horror film’s mind-blowing finale? If you walked away from this one with your brain exploding and your mouth hanging open, you’re not alone. Let’s break down what it all means.
resurrection offers a ruthless tale of domestic abuse and psychological trauma.
rebecca hall stars as margaret, a successful executive whose life seems as perfect as her meticulously pressed business attire. Her home is a neat and tidy apartment, which she shares with her trusting 18-year-old daughter, Abbie (Grace Kaufman). Even her love life is carefully compartmentalized, as she has found a reliable sex partner in Peter, an emotionally unavailable co-worker played by Michael Esper. All of this is threatened when the past she left behind collides with her present.
David (tim roth) is a handsome and gruff 60-year-old Brit whose abrupt presence on the fringes of Margaret’s life becomes hotly difficult to bear. why, exactly, david’s vision begins to fracture his façade is a secret she will hide from his daughter, his mistress, and even the police. is a story of domestic abuse, suffocating control, and cannibalistic murder. who would believe him?
According to a gruesome monologue, Margaret was once in love with an older man whose adulation was all she desired, even when it came to “kindnesses” that could range from housework to humiliation, subjugation, and self-harm. To demonstrate her devotion to her David, they put her in stress positions, burned her with cigarettes, and pressured her to make him her whole world. after her came her son her ben hers, a source of joy for her but jealousy for david. To keep Margaret close to her, David does the unthinkable, the impossible: he eats her baby. Yet then and now, 22 years later, after she reappears, she insists that the child lives inside him, still crying for her mother, who eventually ran away when she finally believed Ben was dead. /p>
Over a cup of tea, david coldly tries to regain control over margaret by insisting, “she’s still inside me here. suffering.” As resurrected trauma and the stress of keeping her teenage daughter safe mount, Margaret begins to fear that this strange statement is true, and that her son, whom she thought dead for over 20 years, is still a baby. still somehow nestled in his father’s guts. . she can hear him cry. she even she can feel it kick. And then, in the climactic confrontation, she reaches into David’s belly, which she has cut open with a knife, and finds Ben there, breathing. “It’s good to see you again,” she cooed to herself. “I saved you.” But what does it mean?
Was David telling the truth? Has Margaret been fooled by his resurgent abuse? Let’s consider the possibilities.
baby ben is real and alive.
Logic tells us that this cannot be true. people can’t gobble up babies and store them for decades, no matter how spitefully fueled they are. however, horror movies can be slippery with their realities. And while Resurrection starts out grounded in reality, Semans’ script constantly leads us down a dark path of the improbable. here, a tooth is found in a girl’s wallet. there, the burned body of a baby appears in an oven, although that was a nightmare of margaret… right?
logic is not the justification for the theory that ben is alive. Instead, consider this revelation through the lens of Semans’ exploration of domestic violence. david exhibits many familiar characteristics of real-life abusers: he charms margaret’s family but makes her feel isolated, dependent on him, and as if all her worth is connected to her pleasure. After Ben is devoured, David even uses his gruesome custody of the baby as a new way to exert control over her, telling her that he must grant her “kindnesses” to be near the womb spawned of her.
Then, there is the awful reality of what can happen when a victim reports abuse: unhelpful police, misunderstanding family members, a story too horrible to be easily believed. Margaret experiences all of this as she tries to maintain her control over the life she built from David’s shadow. hers is an extreme example due to the element of cannibalism, but this extreme is offset by the ending, where her version of a happy ending is not just killing her abuser but also regaining her lost life.
baby ben is dead and is an illusion.
resurrection is the story of a woman undone by an abusive man whose very presence is a threat because of everything she knows has come before. no one understands his pain or his past, and the guilt of leaving her child, even if he was eaten and killed, threatens her grip on reality. Abbie and Peter even staged an awkward intervention, begging Margaret to get psychological help. they are right? is this all in your head? Is she she being cheated on by her stalker stalker?
Over the course of the film, Margaret’s breakdown is visually traced through her appearance. her clothes range from elegant and serene to wrinkled and ill-fitting. her hair grows disheveled. her skin changes from radiant to devastated. Some of this is under the direction of David, who demands that she walk barefoot to work, to hell with the concrete and city streets.
on top of this, margaret’s boundaries are crumbling. her firm but tender instructions to her daughter become tense and tyrannical, demanding that the child never leave her home, ever. she has been away for work for a week. her dates for sex with the ever-reliable peter turn into awkward encounters in a bathroom, which is reflected in his appearance in her life on a personal level that doesn’t interest her. She — she plans to kill the man who stalks her in her waking nightmare. In this scenario, by the time David and Margaret meet in that hotel room, maybe everything after she disembowels him is an illusion of what she needs to be true. she needs to be able to save this mess and be the advocate for her children that she, and david, insist on being. and we, her witnesses, see the world like her.
what does the end of the resurrection mean?
Let’s look at the final shot of each of these possibilities. In each case, there is a brief chance of a happy ending, because real or not, Margaret feels the weight of her baby breathing in her arms, reunited, restored, resurrected. but that’s not the end of the movie.
The ending sequence takes us back to her and abbie’s apartment, where the girl’s room is stark white, its walls a bit bare as she quietly prepares to leave for college. the panic that wreaked havoc on their relationship is gone. Both women shine when Abbie visits her mother’s bedroom, where Margaret sits smiling, holding her swaddled son. after sweetly thanking her mother, abbie takes the baby from her mother, cradles him, and accepts him. They are the family that Margaret dreamed of. “I’m not afraid anymore,” Abbie assures Margaret. “You did everything right, so I’m not afraid.” But before the film cuts to black, Margaret’s warm gaze drifts from her children to an uncanny middle distance. Slowly her smile fades. the gleam in her eyes turns cold, a dread creeps in, subtly but unmistakably. she gasps. then the movie ends.
what does she see? What has she realized? if you read the climax as an illusion, what does the shrinking smile and haunted look mean? In particular, in this shot, the camera’s focus shifts, robbing Margaret of her glowing skin, exposing her pores, sweat, and tiny blemishes. Is this a hint that Margaret, who no longer has a baby in her arms, is waking up to reality, and is a horror that can do nothing but look down?
Alternatively, if you see baby ben as real and alive, this ending translates into gut-wrenching terror. Even though David is gone, even though his children are safe, Margaret’s trauma lingers. That gasp may mean Margaret can never truly escape David, because if her baby could have survived being eaten, couldn’t David survive being disemboweled? maybe she is looking at him. she may be contemplating the uncertainty that she will be her lifelong partner, without her ever allowing her to feel truly secure.
Any way you read it, the resurrection delivers a final sequence full of wild surprises, then concludes with a final moment that’s breathtakingly unsettling.
resurrection is in theaters now and is available via video on-demand.
If you have experienced domestic or intimate partner violence, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233. additional resources are available on their website.