Film Pulse Score

Release Date: January 30, 2012
MPAA Rating: NR
Director: Jon Foy
FilmPulse Score: 7/10

It’s so rare that in the age of having endless amounts of information at our fingertips, that we find ourselves confronted with a real mystery. Not just why do I have so many missing socks, or why does my neighbor ceaselessly wonder our parking lot, but a real mystery filled with intrigue and burning questions that beg to be answered. Resurrect Dead is that mystery.

The story goes like this.  In the early 80s strange tiles began showing up on the streets and crosswalks throughout Philadelphia. All the tiles said the same thing, “Toynbee Idea In Movie ‘2001 Resurrect Dead On Planet Jupiter.” For years these cryptic messages went unnoticed until several curious people began cataloging their locations.  What was soon discovered, was that the tiles were not only in Philadelphia, but were popping up all over the Northeast, from Boston, to Baltimore and many points in between.  It was later discovered that several tiles began appearing in South America as well. No one knew who created them, or why.  In this film, several amateur sleuths decide to solve this mystery and uncover the truth behind the Toynbee Tiles.

The documentary unravels the mystery through conversations, reenactments, drawings, photographs, and footage.  Nearly every documentary technique is at work here, and yet the film still feels slightly unpolished.  Fortunately, the story is engaging enough to forgive the sub-par film-making, and that’s where the film shines. As the group uncovers more evidence and begins to piece together the answers, it feels like you’re on the ride with them, following the clues and discovering the truth.  While some may find the film’s climax disappointing, I felt that it was the perfecting ending to a good mystery.  Although the case appeared to be closed, many things were still left open for interpretation.

Like Catfish, Resurrect Dead sets out not knowing what will be uncovered, and although Catfish may have stronger themes, Resurrect Dead stands as a solid documentary that is both fascinating and sad in it’s own way. With so many documentaries coming out about the Middle East, or climate change, or the financial crisis, it’s refreshing to see something unique, and in the end, isn’t that what a good documentary is supposed to be?

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