From burnt babies to a gnarly delivery scene, 'Resurrection' is the year’s wildest horror movie

·5 min read

Spoiler alert! The following post discusses important plot points and the ending of the new movie “Resurrection,” so beware if you haven’t seen it yet. 

“Resurrection” plays it pretty straightforward as a psychological thriller until reaching the bun in the oven.

No, for real, there’s a cooked baby in a stove that's bound to bother even the most horror-loving of parents.

“If it doesn't hit you in the pit of the stomach, we screwed something up,” writer and director Andrew Semans says of the scene that sparks an increasingly dark tale leading up to an unforgettable finale he simply calls “the C-section.”

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Margaret (Rebecca Hall) has her well-oiled life thrown into chaos when a man from her past resurfaces in the psychological horror film "Resurrection."
Margaret (Rebecca Hall) has her well-oiled life thrown into chaos when a man from her past resurfaces in the psychological horror film "Resurrection."

“Resurrection” (in theaters and on Apple TV and other on-demand platforms) stars Rebecca Hall as Margaret, a working single mom with an extremely ordered life who’s very protective of her college-ready daughter. But Margaret’s heart sinks one day when she sees David (Tim Roth), an older man from the traumatic past she has put behind her.

“This all happens at a moment in Margaret's life where she's particularly vulnerable in terms of her abilities as a mother and her capacities. It's a situation where you're forced to look back and ask yourself: ‘Did I do a good job as a parent? Did I adequately prepare my child for this life?’ " says Semans, who became a father for the first time himself three weeks ago.

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David (Tim Roth) comes back into life of his former love Margaret (Rebecca Hall) with his old manipulative ways in "Resurrection."
David (Tim Roth) comes back into life of his former love Margaret (Rebecca Hall) with his old manipulative ways in "Resurrection."

That charred baby dream is the stuff of nightmares

After Margaret first spots David, she’s in her home and sees smoke coming out of the oven. She opens it and finds a charred, lifeless newborn who suddenly cries out, waking her from the dream – and leaving the audience shaken.

Semans wanted to move the narrative in “possibly a more uncanny or surreal direction” as well as hint “to the content of Margaret's fears (and) her terror,” he says. “It just made sense metaphorically. It is a baby that has been trapped far longer than it should have been inside.”

He recalls filming the scene with a “very lifelike prosthetic baby” that disturbed his assistant director, who had young children at home.

“Now having a baby just in the next room, I might have the same reaction that he did,” Semans says. “So in my next movie, there will be no depictions or descriptions of harm coming to any infants, I promise you.”

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"Resurrection" director Andrew Semans, initially inspired by anticipated fears around parenting, recently became a dad for the first time.
"Resurrection" director Andrew Semans, initially inspired by anticipated fears around parenting, recently became a dad for the first time.

Rebecca Hall's embattled mom speaks her truth

But wait, it gets weirder. In an eight-minute monologue (where the camera doesn’t stray from Hall’s face once), Margaret finally reveals her troubled backstory: She met David when she was her daughter’s age and they fell in love, but he quickly turned abusive and manipulative. Margaret became pregnant and gave birth to their son, Ben, but one day the infant disappeared and David told her that he ate him, forcing a distraught Margaret to flee. And now David is back in her life two decades later saying Ben is still in his belly, crying for his mother.

The “Resurrection” script was initially inspired by Semans’ “anticipated fears around parenting." But also at the time, the filmmaker says he had a friend in “a very unhealthy, unpleasant relationship with a very toxic individual” and became fascinated and terrified by those kinds of abuse dynamics. “Themes of coercion and control and gaslighting and trauma bonding all became a big part of it.”

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Margaret (Rebecca Hall) receives a happy ending at the end of "Resurrection," but it's an unreliable one.
Margaret (Rebecca Hall) receives a happy ending at the end of "Resurrection," but it's an unreliable one.

'Resurrection' concludes with the mother of all delivery horrors

Margaret’s well-oiled life falls spectacularly apart, leading to a fateful last meeting with David at his hotel room. He again states that Ben is in his stomach, leading Margaret to stab him in the abdomen. She doesn’t stop there, slicing him open, taking out his insides and finding a baby boy inside.

Semans describes that moment as “a cathartic, operatic explosion where all the energy that accrued bursts forth and actually distorts the reality of the film.” He also likes that the scene “tears it out of its own genre” as “Resurrection” shifts from thriller to supernatural horror film by the third act.

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As if that’s not jaw-dropping enough, the movie then cuts to Margaret in bed snuggling with the infant. Her daughter comes in to say goodbye as she’s headed off to school, and the camera zooms closely into Margaret’s face as a look of joy gradually shifts to a haunted facade before the credits roll.

“It's the anxiety that this might not all be as it seems,” Semans explains of the movie’s last frame. “Because it resolves in a way that gives her absolutely everything she wants, it is a highly dubious ending. It's something that feels unreliable (and) untrustworthy. And if what we're seeing is not real, then the underlying reality is probably something far more tragic and terrible.

“But I didn't want to depict that. I wanted Margaret's dreams to come true.”

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: 'Resurrection' spoilers: Let's unpack 2022's weirdest horror film