Michael Clarke Duncan in 'A Resurrection' (Photo: Archstone Distribution)
The world was deeply saddened last September when larger-than-life actor Michael Clarke Duncan died at the age of 54. A towering presence with an inimitable bass-heavy voice and, as is usually the case with giants, a gentle spirit, Duncan was probably best known for his Oscar-nominated performance as a death row inmate with mystical powers in "The Green Mile" and for his villainous turns in both "Daredevil" (in which he played the classic Marvel Comics heavy Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin) and Tim Burton's reboot of "Planet of the Apes."
Duncan returned to his supernatural roots for what ended up being his final theatrical film, "A Resurrection." Formerly titled "The Sibling," the film follows the dark path of troubled teenager Eli Driggs (J. Michael Trautmann), a high school student struggling with the recent death of his older brother, Devon (Patrick de Ledebur), at the hands of some of his own classmates. The school psychologist (Mischa Barton) tries to help Eli come to terms with the tragedy, though the young man is becoming more sullen and withdrawn ... and entertaining the idea that his brother might be coming back from the grave to seek revenge.
See Michael Clarke Duncan in the trailer premiere for 'A Resurrection':
As is usually the case with these kinds of stories, that crazy talk ends up being more than just the deranged fantasies of a kid struggling with grief, and soon there's an empty grave to kickstart the evidence that Devon has indeed come back for some postmortem vengeance.
It's a familiar kind of story, though the trailer shows off a film that takes its bleak premise maybe a little more seriously than some of its kin. There's a certain cleverness in the casting as well, as Devon Sawa, who played the teenager being stalked by literally Death itself in the first "Final Destination" (2000), is all grown up and playing the skeptical town sheriff. It's kind of surreal to see "The O.C." alum Barton as an adult authority figure as well.
But the real joy in watching "A Resurrection" will be enjoying the work of Michael Clarke Duncan one final time. Duncan plays Addison, the school principal, a decidedly more low-key role for him that makes his send-off a quiet and underplayed one -- indeed, a bittersweet yet somewhat fitting closing to a career of playing big men with even bigger personalities.
"A Resurrection," directed by Matt Orlando, was shot in 20 days, mostly in and around the former Knoxville Middle School in Pittsburgh. The film will hit theaters courtesy of Archstone Distribution on March 22.