Studio: Jamie Kennedy Entertainment
Director: Matt Orlando
Writer: Matt Orlando
Producer: Aaron Levine, Phillip Glasser, Brian Hartman
Stars: Mischa Barton, Devon Sawa, Michael Clarke Duncan, J. Michael Trautmann
After a hit-and-run driver takes his brother’s life, a high school boy enacts a plan for revenge that will bring his sibling back from the grave.
“A Resurrection” has difficulty finding its footing in the Suspense, Thriller, or Horror genres. Rather than concentrate on fitting well into one of those categories, the movie settles for being lackluster in all three concurrently.
Specifically, there is an identity crisis about whether to play the story as a mystery or to aim strictly for supernatural tinged terror. Unable to choose, the film meanders a middling line between the two and ends up as neither.
Eli is a troubled high schooler who recently lost his beloved brother in a tragic hit-and-run accident. But he may have a way to bring his sibling back from the grave and punish the classmates he holds responsible in the process. Standing in his way are the counselor and the town deputy who are unraveling the truth behind the death and the resurrection.
No stranger to high school-related roles, Mischa Barton takes a turn on the other side of the desk for this go as the school’s resident mental health professional. She fits the role fine, although her casting is quizzically out of place. Accepting Mischa Barton as one of the faculty instead of as one of the pupils pushes the limits of disbelief when she is actually younger than several of the actors playing her students.
The audience is then made to experience an identity crisis of its own. Chiefly, there is no other character to identify with. Devon, the dead brother, is seen only in a singular flashback and never has a line of dialogue. With next to nothing known about him, there is no reason to mourn his mortality or wish to see the guilty punished. (Other than a natural sense of right and wrong, of course.) His younger brother Eli is portrayed by J. Michael Trautman. According to the credits, anyway. Eli may in fact have been a resurrected zombie himself, or he could have been someone wearing a mask of the actor, as his face rarely changes. The emotion expressed ranges between brooding scowl and sullen pout. The difference is notable only by the depth of his brow furrow.
In his final screen appearance, the late Michael Clarke Duncan plays the school’s principal. Sadly, the amount of screentime given to his scenes clocks in at a scant total of around five minutes. Devon Sawa as Deputy Travis spends his time continuing to stand over an open grave long after discovering it is empty. From there, he is ably distracted by a crazy old coot stroking a skinned fox and a gaggle of men stooping over a dead pig in the road. It is as if the script occasionally snaps from a daze to recall that Mischa Barton has a love interest and then fumbles to find the deputy something to do. When not offering exposition, he generally spends time chasing dead leads.
Chasing dead leads is a theme with “A Resurrection.” The film begins on a path of revenge fantasy coupled with a dose of zombie voodoo, and then tries a twist by suggesting the troubled boy is perhaps more disturbed than anyone suspected. (Mild SPOILER) Rather than provide a true mystery by scattering meaningful diversions around a rope of suspense, the movie makes one yarn ball out of all the threads and combines every possibility to explain the events. The resulting story causes itchy scalps not out of mystery, but out of confusion for why the filmmakers wanted to play the story that way. Compounding the issue is the snail’s pace it takes to come to a resolution on any of those fronts.
It becomes clear that characters like Deputy Travis are stuck spinning wheels just to pointlessly keep a plate of red herring whirling on a rod. Other characters have no relation at all to the central plot (the female students detained in a classroom) or exist merely for a body count or other nonsensical purpose. Sensing that some elements are still unclear, one character even appears for the first time in the second to last scene just to explain a leftover dangler.
Underdeveloped characters are overtasked with busy work to distract from a plot still choosing where to go. Had “A Resurrection” focused on a primary goal, e.g. suspense, horror, mystery, it might have been more successful. Trying to incorporate all of these elements at once was more than it could chew, and the movie ends up falling flat on all sides.
NOTE: “A Resurrection” was previously known as “The Sibling.”
Review Score: 30