Resurrection / Resurrección (dir. Gonzalo Calzada, 2016) – A young priest returns home to help the sick during the 1871 yellow fever epidemic.
Argentinian horror Resurrection makes a nightmarish impression and delivers shivers with atmospheric dread, though some may find its pace crawling.
Young priest Aparicio (Martin Slipak) returns to his home during a plague, only to find the estate abandoned and his family consumed by madness. His afflicted brother is on his deathbed, his sister-in-law speaks of the devil’s curse, and his niece is locked in behind chapel doors.
When the ostensible contagion unveils its darker leanings, Aparicio struggles to keep his faith. But the occult and family secrets become the least of his worries soon as he starts to ail.
A 19th century backdrop lends Resurrection a portentous setting, smothered in fog and shadows in Gothic horror tradition. Speculations surround the lone surviving and duplicitous servant Quispe (Patricio Conteras), who keeps up the air of mystery in what could have been a trite supernatural tale.
Reliant on build-up rather than jarring noises, the slow burn is not for everyone. Yet despite the trudging pace, a perceptible dread proves lasting. A moody atmosphere will please genre fans, fulfilling its full intent to daunt and intrigue. Director Gonzalo Calzada’s craft of suspense is exceptional here, if only hindered by a modest budget.
Brilliant performances contribute. Martin Slipak as Aparicio is especially superb. Even as the plot runs thin from repetition, his portrayed tenacity makes one sympathetic to his chilling predicament. Agonising in the throes of the incurable illness, he suffers not only debilitation, but palpable isolation. Such challenges his religious conviction, convincingly threatening his remaining hope.
His unsettling fever dream becomes his reality, continually blurring the line between truth and visions. But in his search for revelations, nothing profound comes of the overt theological themes behind his priesthood. The feeling of impending doom hitherto evanesces in an instant, when the third act sees an unsubtle final confrontation of evil.
The finale is light on impact, with little pay-off. Its return to ritual conventions banishes any expectations of a more striking conclusion to an otherwise remarkable movie. For its build-up alone, Resurrección remains one to watch for psychological horror fans, clamouring for a break from lazy jump scares.
Resurrection is available on Netflix.