Resureksyon has a really great hook. It starts on an immediately gripping image: a coffin being ferried home, an OFW returning to her family under tragic circumstances. This is a real life fear that is ripe for interpretation through the filter of horror filmmaking. It’s classic strategy that has worked out well throughout the history of the genre. But Resureksyon doesn’t feel fully formed. The ideas are all there, but the movie just isn’t able to bring them to fruition.
Mara and Ailah (Isabelle Daza and Jasmine Curtis-Smith) are sisters who have come to rely on each other, after being orphaned at a very young age. Mara gets work abroad in order to support her son Migs (Raikko Matteo), and tragically returns as a corpse. Then, on the first night of her wake, with the gathered in the middle of praying the rosary, Mara just gets up from the coffin. At first, Ailah is just happy to have her sister back, but soon enough it becomes clear that Mara isn’t exactly who she once was. Their whole town is terrorized as Mara reveals her true nature.
There are lots of great ideas in this movie. The start is tremendous, the film quickly getting into the heart of the situation. Mara’s body returns to her hometown, and through a quick series of flashbacks, the film establishes the strong bond that exists between sisters, and the emotional stakes involved in their parting. And then Mara comes back from the dead, and the whole thing starts to feel undercooked. The film does the broad strokes well, but it gets lost in the details of its own premise.
It starts with how Ailah reacts to the miraculous resurrection of her dearly departed sister. It’s clear right from the very start that Mara isn’t who she is. She isn’t acting normal in any way, but Ailah seems to shrug it off completely. The town doctor also seems too quick to accept the fact that a corpse has suddenly been reanimated. From there, the film continues to fray. The plot, it turns out, is built on Mara wanting to take Migs, to turn him into what she is so that they can be together. There is an intriguing conflict in all of this, a struggle between what she once was and what she is now. But in the end, that doesn’t really seem to matter much.
Clever filmmaking makes up for some of the flaws, but the limitations of the production keep it from fully taking over. The action sequences just don’t work out. The effect the film uses to convey the supernatural just doesn’t pan out, and mostly leads to these sequences looking really ugly. The cast is more or less all right, but no one is given enough to do. Jasmine Curtis-Smith and Paulo Avelino make the most out of pretty underwritten roles. Out in the supporting cast, Niño Muhlach makes a memorable turn as the town’s hapless, testosterone-fueled mayor.
Resureksyon has so much potential. The premise on its own manages to combine familiar horror movie elements with a distinctly personal, Filipino hook. I really wanted to love it, but it just doesn’t come together. It comes to focus less and less on the intriguing personal dimension of this story, and comes to invest in action sequences that the film doesn’t seem truly capable of staging. There is a really good film to be made with this premise, this cast, and this talent behind the camera. But somehow, that isn’t what we end up getting.