What David says he has, and how he has it, takes Resurrection from the realm of psychological thriller into surrealist horror, a tricky transition that Semans pulls off with remarkable confidence. He’s aided in no small way by fantastic performances from Hall (following up her harrowing turn in The Night House). In Resurrection, Hall’s Margaret is an unreliable narrator, making us question much of what we see even before the movie takes its bizarre turn–and Roth, whose eerie calm makes his evil that much more malignant.
After his younger son put his stamp of approval on it, Roth found a second opinion from another trusted source, which sealed the deal for the actor. “I got on the phone, called [the agent] back, and said, ‘Yep, I’m doing it. Apparently,’” he recalls. “My other son, who lives in California, read it as well, and he’s like, ‘Oh, yeah. 100 percent.’ So it was out of my hands, really.”
Once that was settled, Roth’s next conversation was with Semans, to figure out how to play the difficult role of David.
“There were a couple of ways that you could go,” Roth explains. “One would be to just play him as he was on the page and see what happens, see what the audience makes of that.”
But Roth had another proposal. “My idea, which [Semans] was interested in, was: okay, he’s a really nice guy. He’s a good person trying to help, trying to understand this woman, trying to bring her some potentially very good news, and trying to help her in very difficult times. So to bring that element to it and then see how that expanded and how Rebecca’s character will react to that and so on, it was a little bit different from what was on the page. I mean, the story was the same. It was just bringing this guy to life in a very sort of odd way.”
Indeed, the most chilling aspect of Roth’s portrayal, and the character himself, is the almost reasonable, even-keeled way in which he again slowly infects Margaret with his toxicity while also quietly steering their interaction in an increasingly bizarre direction.