(Russell Mulcahy, USA, 1999)


"Warning: Most mindblowingly shocking film you will see this year". Whoever penned this promotional line for Russell Mulcahy's new film has a keen sense of humour. Only one another 1999 release with an Australian pedigree – the religious mystery-thriller The Missing – rivals Resurrection for sheer awfulness.

Still, I prefer the relentlessly game, po-faced badness of this movie to the hidden, shame-faced sensationalism of Savior (1998) or the hype-cloud surrounding The Blair Witch Project (1999).

In Mulcahy's career, Resurrection harks back to the Highlander movies (1986 & 1991), or his feature debut Razorback (1984). In essence, it is little different from any average episode of the many horror-suspense TV series that have emerged in the wake of The X-Files. It mingles serial killing, detection, spiritual portents, male-buddy humour, sombre lighting and a jittery camera style.

David Fincher's Seven (1995) is eagerly pillaged as a model. A stoic cop, Prudhomme (Christopher Lambert, who had a hand in the script), investigates a grisly trail of murders. With each crime, a different body part is removed by a maniac who claims religious inspiration.

Most viewers will spot the identity of this killer long before it is melodramatically revealed. The film's interest is riveted elsewhere: on misty scenes of Lambert frowning as he peers at the evidence, hoping to spot the secret pattern that will enable him to predict and outfox the bad guy. Fortunately, Prudhomme has David Cronenberg, in a hilarious cameo as a priest, to offer Biblical exegesis.

I kept hoping that Resurrection would go the way of Larry Cohen's God Told Me To (1976), elevating itself from mere action film to metaphysical nightmare. Alas, its trajectory is rather mundane.

But at least Mulcahy has the good sense to deliver all the absurdities, excesses and artifices of the script – the handiwork of Brad Mirman, treasured by a lonely few of us as the writer of Madonna's Body of Evidence (1993) – in a straight, efficient manner.

For me, this made it more fun than Saving Private Ryan (1998), American History X (1998) and Happiness (1998) combined.

MORE Mulcahy: The Shadow

© Adrian Martin December 1999

Film Critic: Adrian Martin
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