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A Resurrection

2013 | 90 min | R | 2.39:1

A Resurrection


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Theatrical release date

 22 March, 2013

Country of origin

 United States



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A Resurrection


A Resurrection Preview  

 / 10
Preview by Brian Orndorf, March 22, 2013

“A Resurrection” will most likely be remembered as one of the last screen appearances for Michael Clarke Duncan, the behemoth actor who tragically passed away last autumn. It’s especially important to celebrate his role as Duncan is the best thing about “A Resurrection,” brightening up the picture with the ten minutes of screen time he has, showing more comfort and range than anyone else in this dreary, cheapy effort. With intentions to build a ghostly whodunit, the movie falls asleep instead, as writer/director Matt Orlando doesn’t show the kind of invention necessary to snap scares into position, working to shatter the suffocating monotony that pins the feature down.

A high school counselor, Jessie (Mischa Barton) is ready to end the work day and spend time with her cop boyfriend, Travis (Devon Sawa). Impeding her late afternoon liberation is Eli (J. Michael Trautmann), an artistically gifted loner who lost older brother Devon (Patrick de Ledebur) to a car accident, though the boy claims jock Brandon (Nick Jandl) and his letterman-jacket wearing cronies were responsible for the death. Warning that Devon has returned from the dead to acquire the souls necessary to make him live again, Eli is insistent that trouble is on its way. Jessie and Principal Addison (Michael Clarke Duncan) have their doubts, while Travis is sent to Eli’s house to investigate, discovering an open grave and a local witch (Annie Kitral), helping to authenticate the teen’s story. When dead bodies begin to pile up around the school, Jessie panics and hopes to escape, while Eli remains committed to easing his brother’s access to those he’s looking to kill, serving up Brandon and his friends for the slaughter.

“A Resurrection” posits an interesting idea for a horror movie, suggesting a zombie stomp as Eli sponsors his brother’s return to the land of the living, sick with worry that he’s targeting unintended victims on his way to orchestrating revenge for his sibling’s death. The early scenes certainly promise something spooky on the way, observing Eli slosh around in discomfort, communicating through graphic drawings that detail the oncoming undead storm. There’s also a mystery component with Brandon and his bully tendencies, though any doubt about his role in Devon’s death is settled right away, robbing the screenplay of the questions it could easily massage throughout the picture. I’m not suggesting “A Resurrection” ever had a shot at being a competent genre exercise, but there’s a foundation here for an exciting, intriguing look at panic brought on by false accusations and a grieving kid out to reanimate his brother by any means necessary.

Orlando isn’t a seasoned filmmaker, and his atmospheric command over “A Resurrection” leaves much to be desired. Although burdened with a tiny budget, the helmer doesn’t push the visual experience in a manner that encourages suspense. The film looks flat and unexciting, forgoing a screen personality that brings out the best scares. “A Resurrection” is a bit of a wreck editorially as well, finding scenes pieced together with hopes and dreams instead of basic skill. That the feature doesn’t always make sense isn’t surprising, it’s the general lifelessness of the cast that’s most disappointing. Barton fails to hit critical notes of panic, more concerned with pronunciations than projecting the quaking sense of torment Jessie should rightfully be feeling. Sawa seems to be in his own movie, doing whatever he can to jazz up his character, making the cop something of an easily overwhelmed dim-wit, which comes to be a colorful touch in a persistently gray picture. And Trautmann puts his single sour expression to extensive use, making it difficult to believe the faculty only recently singled out the boy as trouble.

Actually, “A Resurrection” is almost quaint in its depiction of a troubled kid, living in a world where a student can scribble horribly violent images down on paper, claim the pictures are a warning of future death, openly threaten his classmates and the staff, and still be allowed to remain inside his school. How times have changed since 2012.

Transforming into a slasher film of limited appeal, zested with gore shots that almost seem like they belong in another feature, “A Resurrection” slips into autopilot, though Orlando shows no aptitude for cheap thrills, keeping the picture subdued when it should wreak havoc. There’s also a ridiculous ending to swallow; however, arriving late in the effort, it goes largely unpunished, sneaking by while the viewer attempts to contemplate how a zombie/witchcraft/school massacre movie could be so inert.

Starring: Mischa Barton, Michael Clarke Duncan, Devon Sawa, Matthew Willig
Director: Matt Orlando

» See full cast & crew

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