What happens when a director assembles a strong cast and has clear command over a movie's imagery but still can't cross the finish line unscathed.
The answer can be found in director Andrew Semans's Resurrection, a psychological thriller that's big on creating ambiguity.
About the cast: Rebecca Hall plays Margaret, a single mom and businesswoman living in New York State. Confident in the business world, Margaret harbors a deep, unsettling secret.
Margaret's seemingly solid world begins to crumble when she sees a man (Tim Roth) from her past at a biotech conference. The appearance of Roth's David shakes Margaret to the core.
The performances given by Hall and Roth blend perfectly with the uneasy mood that Semans creates.
We're mean to wonder whether Margaret is really in danger from Roth's character or whether we're being immersed in her paranoia.
Roth wisely underplays the menace that David represents, only occasionally flashing a toothy grin that borders on the demonic.
Semans makes good use of Wyatt Garfield's cinematography, which implies a populated world while at the same time pushing us deeper into Margaret's isolating point of view.
Margaret operates like a woman possessed. We often see her running. She runs hard and even seems to be working during the sexual interludes she shares with a married co-worker (Michael Esper).
Margaret isn't running toward anything; she's running from a part of her past she wants to suppress. The effort leaves her drenched with sweat.
Overprotective of her teenage daughter (Grace Kaufman) and eager to play mentor to an intern at work (Angela Wong Carbone), Margaret is one more character burdened by her personal history.
All of this builds toward a violent finale and a conclusion that, on a literal level, makes no sense and which presumably Semans wants to fill with metaphoric charge.
Still, the movie's conclusion struck me as an unearned volley of gore and mystery that made me regard Margaret's crazed journey with more skepticism than I might initially have had.