The Returned (DVD)

Fabrice Gobert
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Jul 13, 2015

One day, fifteen year old teenager Camille walks back up the winding mountain road and into her house, shocking her family. What seems like it should be a completely mundane act most patently is not; Camille died in a bus accident four years earlier. Camille has no memory of that event and no apparent understanding that she has died. As far as she knows, it's the day of the bus accident. But her family, while still grieving, has moved on. Her parents have split up, and most strikingly, her twin sister Léna is now several years older than Camille. The family member's responses to her return vary drastically. Her mother is wildly protective of her. Her father seems mostly baffled. But her sister's response is most unexpected, ranging from indifferent to hostile. Reactions from others in the town--particularly the parents of other teens who died in the bus crash--add a whole new layer of complications when they learn that Camille has come back. 

Camille is not the only one to have returned from the dead.  On the brink of marrying police captain Thomas, librarian and mother Adèle is confronted by her former fiancé Simon, who died on the day of their wedding ten years before, throwing her current wedding plans and carefully rebuilt mental stability into upheaval. Elderly Mr. Costa is shocked and disturbed by the return of his wife Viviane, who died over thirty years ago, and his response is extreme, to say the least. And Mr. Costa's nurse, Julie, is suddenly seeing a mysterious and eerily silent young boy, whom she dubs Victor, everywhere she goes. Local pub owner Toni is likewise rendered deeply unsettled when his violent brother Serge turns up on his doorstep amid the emergence of a wave of crimes suspiciously similar to those he committed before his death seven years ago. 

This French television series is fascinating in its exploration of how the town's residents cope (or fail to cope) with the return of their deceased neighbors and loved ones. Though those who have returned could accurately be described as zombies, this is not a typical zombie story. There is relatively little violence or gore. The returned aren't out for blood (or brains), they merely want to resume their previous lives. The Returned is, however, quietly unsettling and tension-filled, since all of the returned harbor some degree negative intent toward the living. Fans of suspense and mystery, and well as those intrigued by family drama and other interpersonal relationships, should check this out. As should fans of more traditional takes on the zombie and horror genre. 

The show is the basis of the currently-running A&E series, also called The Returned. A second season of the original show is rumored to be scheduled to air in France later this year, picking up six months after the events of the first series with a new wave of returnees, and promises to address some lingering questions about what happened to a few of the characters at the end of the first series. 

Reviewed by Heather B.
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