THE RETURNED Returns and SHOCK Looks at the Original Film, THEY CAME BACK


As the French TV series THE RETURNED crawls back for a second season, SHOCK looks briefly at the feature film that started it all.

SUNDANCE TV is poised to begin its run of the second season of the hit French quasi-zombie series THE RETURNED beginning Halloween night, Saturday, October 31st at 10pm EST.

For those of you unfamiliar with the admittedly eerie show, it’s sort of the anti-THE WALKING DEAD with the resurrected ghouls not really that ghoulish at all. Rather, the show trades on emotion and melancholy (much like the similar but unrelated and often excellent US series RESSURECTION, which itself was based on a novel called THE RETURNED…head spinning yet?). It tells the tale of French village that is suddenly and inexplicably faced with the problem of its deceased population returning like ghosts from their graves and then trying to find their place back in society.

Here’s the season two synopsis from the press release:

The second season picks up six months after the deceased disappeared into the mountains with Simon (Pierre Perrier), Camille (Yara Pilartz), her mother, Claire (Anne Consigny), Julie (Céline Sallette) and the mysterious youngster Victor (Swann Nambotin). Since then, nothing has been heard of them. Now, Adèle (Clotilde Hesme) is about to give birth to Simon’s child, part of the town is still ?ooded and the dam remains under surveillance. Rumors abound that the dead have returned, but the authorities refuse to believe them. The rare witnesses have chosen to remain silent or are not taken seriously, among them Léna (Jenna Thiam) and her father, Jérôme (Frédéric Pierrot), who have not given up hope of ?nding Claire and Camille. But when a mysterious man named Berg (Laurent Lucas) pays a visit to the town, it appears he knows more than he claims.

The trailer:

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I liked the first season. But did you know the show was based on a feature film? And what a film it is…

Director Robin Campillo’s 2004 horror/drama LES REVENANTS (released briefly in English Canada and elsewhere as THEY CAME BACK and the UK as, of course, THE RETURNED) is a haunting, emotionally affecting, non-sensational and quietly devastating film that trades on the same story as the show but is so understated and ambient as to be almost translucent.

No cannibalism. No blood. No screaming. No shrill, easy-mark horror. Just drifting emotion and, as the returned dead are just a little bit “off” and seemingly maintain a hive like connection to each other, a gently frightening picture.

But ultimately, both the film and series offer the same angle on the well-worn “zombie apocalypse”, that of the horror of mourning someone you love, moving on and then being suddenly faced with resetting your life to accommodate their return. Like King scribbled in his famous novel PET SEMATARY, “Sometimes dead is better…”






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