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Entertaining as a sleuthing expedition though amateurish as filmmaking, Jon Foy’s “Resurrect Dead” seeks to be the definitive account of a search for answers behind the phenomenon known as the Toynbee Tiles, as a trio of dogged fans of the tiles — handmade messages laid in asphalt referencing Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey,” historian Arnold Toynbee and Jupiter — come close to revealing its elusive creator. Foy won the docu helmer award at Sundance, but the pic’s made-for-TV feel suggests a life outside the theater.

Young Philly-based artist Justin Duerr is front-and-center as chief investigator, determined to meet the maker of the tiles with message: “Toynbee Idea in Movie ‘2001’ Resurrect Dead on Planet Jupiter.” Enlisting the help of Steve Weinik and Colin Smith, Duerr begins with a wide net that narrows things down to a couple of likely suspects, one of whom may be a red herring and the other a recluse apparently frightened to be exposed. Foy’s interest in the trio’s research and investigative skills — which involve nice bits of luck — keeps doc going, despite generally second-rate lensing and editing and zero visual style.

Resurrect Dead: The Mystery of the Toynbee Tiles

  • Production: A Land of Missing Parts production. Produced by Jon Foy, Colin Smith. Executive producer, Doug Block. Directed, edited by Jon Foy. Written by Foy, Colin Smith.
  • Crew: Camera (color, DV), Foy; music, Foy; researchers, Justin Duerr, Steve Weinik, Colin Smith, Foy. Reviewed at Sundance Film Festival (competing), Jan. 24, 2011. Running time: 89 MIN.
  • With: With: Justin Duerr, Steve Weinik, Colin Smith.
  • Music By: