If imitation is the sincerest form of flattery then David Fincher should have been tickled pink by Russell Mulcahy’s 1999 film Resurrection, an unapologetic carbon-copy of Seven that mimics its structure to the tee. But what sets this film apart from the other clone movies is that it’s actually very good. So good, in fact, that had it been made first it just might be held in similar esteem to Fincher’s seminal classic.
Resurrection stars Christopher Lambert as a grieving homicide detective on the hunt for a serial killer who is attempting to recreate the body of Christ. With the mutilated bodies piling up, it becomes a race against time to stop the methodical psychopath before he achieves his ultimate end game. To reveal more of the plot would be to spoil it for anyone keen enough to seek the film out, but suffice to say that for all of its obvious similarities to Seven, the film survives such criticisms by being a well made, creative and highly stylish chiller that holds its own very well.
Mulcahy is one of Australia’s most creatively audacious filmmakers whose career has seen him helm movies like Razorback, Highlander, Ricochet and Resident Evil Extinction, and having come from a music video background in the 1980’s, he brought a new pop-centric style of filmmaking to the world that set a new standard for future directors to adhere to. At the time he made Resurrection the Hollywood landscape was being paved with macabre serial killer films and audiences were lapping them up. Titles like Kiss The Girls, Copycat and The Bone Collector were cashing in on the reputation of Seven, and Resurrection weighed in for a piece of the action. Having said that, there is a sense of sincerity about the film and I get the impression that Mulcahy and co were making a genuine attempt to create a compelling movie that would overcome the resemblance.
Lambert, who also co-created the story with Brad Mirman (Body of Evidence), gives a performance that reminds us of the quality of work he made early in his career. While his delivery is occasionally stilted, he offers a character that has a level of depth that he has rarely been afforded the opportunity to play. Having personally being involved in crafting the plot, Lambert was able to immerse himself in the role with ease. The supporting cast is led by one of Seven‘s more memorable players, Leland Orser, as Lambert’s fellow detective. His presence helps quash the ‘imitation’ accusations and he lends the film an added layer of credibility. Other supporting actors include Robert Joy, Peter MacNeill and even legendary cult director David Cronenberg (The Fly, A History of Violence). It’s an unlikely ensemble that makes for an unexpectedly enthralling film.
The production value is the film’s most impressive component, with an almost identical aesthetic to Seven on what would have been a fraction of its budget. Almost all exterior shots are saturated with rain while bright sunlight pierces through the constant downpour, and the effect is striking. Meanwhile, the interior shots are grimy with an almost achromic palate that resists any suggestion of colour. Throw in an impressive series of horrifying crime scenes and a cleverly woven narrative and the result is a grisly film that has appreciated with time and holds up remarkably well.
To watch Resurrection with the distance of time separating it from Seven is to appreciate its artistic merits a whole lot more. And of all the clone films that have come and gone over the years, this is – in my opinion – the standout amongst them all. I highly recommend you track it down and judge for yourself.