Rebecca Hall is one of the fiercest actors of our time. But “Resurrection” lacks her talent

In the movies, the internal traumas that many women endure years or decades after an abusive relationship ends are resolved through a lack of fuss or misguided psychological repercussions.

In the end, the tormentor must be killed, after which life continues for the newly purified character played by the actress above the title. IFC’s “Apocalypse” follows that model, to an extent, although with Rebecca Hall in the lead role, the emotional terrain really highlighted is interesting, real, and chaotic—even when writer-director Andrew Seamans’ second feature falls short. .

Is this the fate of extraordinary actors? To beat their own slightly depressing psychological thrillers, as Hall did two years ago in “The Night House?” Apparently. But either way, there’s enough to support the star.

In “Apocalypse” set in Albany, New York, Hall plays Maggie, a tightly wrapped businesswoman with a college-bound daughter (Grace Kaufman, excellent) and a co-worker married to her onetime lover (Michael Esper). Her life, above all, can be controlled and dealt with strictly.

Then Maggie begins to see someone, across a room, in a shop, or in a garden: the sociopath she seduced, 22 years ago, begins a sinister force dynamic dominated by emotional and physical cruelty. And what’s worse. Tim Roth plays this high-slung, cunning man, David, and as “Apocalypse” continues, Maggie’s increasingly frightened presence becomes a waking nightmare as she discovers why he’s back in pursuit and manipulation.

Is what Maggie is experiencing real? There is frightening evidence of something terrible going on, and of a past that is not yet over. The daughter finds a decaying stray tooth in her mineral purse. The pivoting camera on Maggie’s bare back reveals annoying cigarette burns.

Semans takes Maggie’s plight seriously, Hall’s sudden gasps of realization, and visibly intense episodes of pure sadness or spiritual exhaustion, full of fear, feel perfectly at ease in every scene. The movie is less compelling, I guess, and falters the closer it gets to a confrontation between tough fighters. As storytelling tactics become more dreamlike and amorphous (although quite horrific), the story itself settles into more routine types of guessing games.

Overall, it’s worth seeing what Hall, Roth, Kaufman, and (as an apprentice who knows the depths of Maggie) Angela Wong Carbone combine as a room set. Modern pandemic-era thrillers from “The Invisible Man” to “Kemi” and “Resurrection” have invested a sense of real and sudden in the Woman in Danger scenario, heightening the emotional stakes and psychological devastation of sexual violence. Audiences respond best to these; Sure, the actresses are responding, with orders from Elizabeth Moss and Zoe Kravitz, with some of the best work they’ve done so far.

As assured, Rebecca Hall makes Maggie and her present eerily real. The movie is often good. Never for a moment did Hall perform any less.

“Resurrection” – 2.5 stars (out of 4)

American Motion Picture Association Rating: R (for violence, language)

running time: 1:43

How to watch: Premieres July 29 in theaters.

Michael Phillips is a critic for the Tribune.

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