It seems Rebecca Hall can't keep herself away from horror at the moment – and following on from 2020's The Night House, she once again finds herself working in the genre in new film Resurrection, which arrives digitally in the UK today (Monday 5th December) following a US release earlier in the year.

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As with The Night House, Hall plays a woman facing all sorts of inner turmoil in the movie, but speaking to RadioTimes.com she admits this was precisely the last thing she was looking for when she was initially handed the script.

"I'd just finished making Passing and I was on my way to Sundance to promote The Night House," she explains during an exclusive interview. "This was just pre-pandemic, so I was absolutely not looking for anything like this – The Night House was a heavy lift and I was like, 'I can't do another one like that, I can't do another woman going through hell thing.'"

When she read the script, however, Hall instantly found herself being won over – "surprised, outraged, and gobsmacked by its bravado and sheer insanity," as she puts it.

"I realised that in spite of all those caveats, I had to do it," she says. "And I did it almost out of a sort of wackadoodle curiosity, because part of me didn't really believe that it would work. I was like, 'How on earth can anyone pull this off?' I didn't know, but I was sort of fascinated and morbidly curious so I had to take the risk."

The film tells the story of Margaret, a successful businesswoman and single mother living in Albany, New York whose life begins to unravel when she comes face to face with David (Tim Roth), a mysterious man from her past who still holds some sort of power over her. Upon their reunion, Margaret immediately experiences an extremely visceral reaction, and as the film goes on we slowly learn more about the nature of their previous relationship – including some truly bizarre revelations later down the line. Thematically, it's not a million miles away from the aforementioned The Night House, and Hall says this isn't necessarily an accident.

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"I don't think it's entirely a coincidence, and I don't think it's innately to do with me," she explains. "I think that there is something in the culture that is really mining societal anxiety right now, and I think that I saw in both of these films a sort of punching against the consequences of dealing with trauma or bereavement, finding the strength to come out of that, or sort of even just a kind of catharsis in processing it.

"I sort of smelled that there was something in the culture that needed that exploration right now – words like gaslighting have become much more common in conversation in the last five or 10 years and I think certainly Resurrection is a lot to do with that and those sort of psychological processes."

As for the character, Hall thinks of Margaret as "this crazy sort of lioness" – and even compares her to a rather unexpected movie icon.

"You're gonna laugh when I say this, but there was a lot of the sort of revenge tropes of like Liam Neeson in a Taken movie," she says. "And there's something kind of, for as serious as it is, and for as heavy as it is, there's a sort of dramatic relief that comes with getting to that point where you're just like: 'And now, destroy.' It's quite fun to play."

One of the key scenes in the film occurs roughly at its midpoint. While speaking to an intern at her place of work, Margaret delivers an extraordinary monologue outlining the precise nature of her relationship with David and why he continues to cause her such great distress. The camera remains fixed on Hall's face for the entirety of the eight-minute monologue, and the simplicity with which it is filmed makes the moment all the more affecting. But what was Hall's initial reaction to seeing this incredible speech in the script?

"It definitely appeals to your actor's ego," she laughs. "You're like, 'Oh now I really get to show off!' But that's not a good enough reason in and of itself; I think it has to be tinged with fear. There is that sense of like, 'This is really scary and I don't know if I could do this, but if I did, it would be impressive.'

"I also thought it was filmically pretty bold," she adds. "I mean, nobody does that anymore. People aren't interested these days so much in people talking, just really talking and holding and trusting an actor to sit and do the exposition without cutting away to a flashback or a dream or something. He [director Andrew Semans] knew that's how he wanted to shoot that from the beginning [and] I thought if you can make that kind of brave decision in your filmic language then I think you're probably going to make good decisions throughout this process."

You might think such a long monologue would take a number of takes to get right, but Hall says the opposite was true – even if the crew themselves thought it was going to be something of an ordeal to begin with.

"I remember walking on set and the first assistant director really handling me with kid gloves and being very worried about me," she says. "Like, 'This is a really big day for you, Rebecca, just let me know what you need, we've allotted four hours for this, it's going to be okay, whatever you need to make you feel more comfortable for the scene, we're here for you.'

"But actually the truth of it is it was very easy to shoot because there wasn't any coverage. They just decided where the camera was going to be, locked it off, pressed the button, and then it was on me to just say the words and if I got them all out properly, then it was fine. We did two takes and it was over in 30 minutes!"

While Hall was pretty much on her own for that scene, she could count on an excellent screen partner for many of the film's other key moments. Tim Roth turns in a relatively understated but nonetheless truly creepy performance as David, and Hall explains that even she found herself finding it "really scary" sharing scenes with the actor while he was in character.

"But also it was quite fun," she adds. "He's an actor, he knows that we're playing in the playground, and then when the scene is done we're gonna laugh about it and let go and not necessarily sit in that place of discomfort. So I felt that was good. I think that he really understood what to do with the character because I think there are actors that could have made the choice to make him threatening in an obvious way, or even physically threatening, and actually what the story is really investigating is how someone can hold power over someone even when they're not powerful anymore."

She continues: "This is a character who's now like a schlumpy, middle-aged man with a potbelly drinking vodka out of a paper bag – I mean, Margaret could knock him out immediately should she wish. The point is she doesn't because of the psychological power that he holds over her and that's really what's interesting about it. He understood that and played into that by being very unassuming – and it works, because that's much more insidious and horrifying to witness someone who was then driven to those peaks of frenzy from someone who was so seemingly innocuous."

Ruth Negga and Tessa Thompson in Passing
Ruth Negga as Clare and Tessa Thompson as Irene in Passing. Netflix

Resurrection is Hall's first acting credit since she made her directorial debut with the critically acclaimed film Passing last year, an adaptation of Nella Larsen's 1929 novel of the same name which starred Tessa Thompson and Ruth Negga. The film was released by Netflix, and Hall was showered with all sorts of praise for her sharp directorial instincts – she was named as Best Breakthrough British/Irish Filmmaker by the London Film Critics Circle, while the film picked up a number of other accolades including two Independent Spirit Awards and four BAFTA nominations.

Given she's worked closely in the horror genre as an actor recently, could she see herself directing a film in that vein in the future?

"I think my directing interests lie elsewhere," she answers. "I don't really know that I'm necessarily gravitating towards a specific genre, but I am definitely interested in bringing those elements into drama. I mean, I think I directed Passing like a noir thriller – I was making it deliberately like a horror movie. And there were horror tropes in there, suspense tropes, certainly. And so I think that's probably where my interest is; it's more indirect."

As for whether her experience as a director has changed the ways in which she approaches acting projects, Hall explains that it has made her choices more apparent in two distinct directions.

"For me to act, it either has to be so big of a climb that it merits doing acting over directing – like I have to be so challenged by it – or it has to be so fun that I know that I will have a nice time in a kind of low-pressure situation, which again, is not directing. So you know, I think I need that balance and I think that I'm more aware of what I'm looking for as an actor because of that."

Her latest project, which she has just finished shooting, probably falls into the latter category – another entry in the Godzilla vs Kong franchise, in which she plays anthropological linguist Ilene Andrews

"It was super fun, and I loved every second of it," she says. "I adore Adam Wingard [director] and it was just tremendous. I had a great time."

As for what's next? "I think probably directing again, with a bit of luck."

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Resurrection will release digitally in the UK on Monday 5th December 2022. Looking for something else to watch? Check out our TV Guide or Streaming Guide, or visit our Film hub for more news and features.

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