Sunday, July 13, 2014

The Returned (2013) - Review



The Returned (2013) **1/2
D: Manuel Carballo
C: Emily Hampshire, Kris Holden-Ried, Barry Flatman, Shawn Doyle, Claudia Bassols, Melina Matthews, Paulino Nunes, Romy Weltman, Brian Mifsud,  

Plot Synopsis: In a world where a deadly zombie virus has infected mankind, a single cure has been found. The cure, a treatment called the "Return Protein" which stays the effects of the virus in its host. With injections every 36 hours, the "Returned" are able to live as though they were never bit, despite the virus still coursing through their veins. When it is discovered that the protein stock is running low, chaos hits the streets. Returned who run out of the protein turn to zombies and wreak havoc, protesters turn to murderers as they try to rid the streets of the returned, and right in the middle of it all are Alex and Kate. Kate, a leading doctor in the field of zombie virus' and Alex, a musician with a dark secret, he is a Returned. 

Review: In The Returned, if someone is affected with the zombie virus and it's caught in a timely manner, they can take a daily injection that allows them to lead a normal life. No one call tell the difference between these people, dubbed The Returned. They're normal people like you & I, with real emotions and real goals. Yet, they're shunned by society. 

When supplies of this injection start to dwindle, The Returned are gathered and put into concentration camps. People begin to react with fear and animosity. There are several different parallels that can be drawn from this such as the AIDS epidemic, racism towards African Americans, the detention of Japanese-Americans during World War II or even the prejudice that gay, lesbian, bi-sexual & transgender people have faced.


The film asks us to look within ourselves. Should it be zombies that we're afraid of or should we be scared of each other? After all, a zombie is driven by instinct. People, on the other hand, make a conscious decision to engage in hatred and violence towards one another. And in that regard, The Returned is an insightful social commentary into our own behaviors with zombies used as a metaphor.

It's not until during the finale that The Returned starts to crack at the seams where a last minute plot twist is thrown into the mix. The scenes leading up to this plot twist involve a couple. The female half, of this couple, is a doctor who works with The Returned while the male half is a member of The Returned.

Other elements that come into play during these scenes is the media and how news reports can create a frenzied effect on the general public, the sanctity of doctor-patient confidentiality and the line between self preservation and selfishness. There's a power to these scenes and the world in which these characters inhibit, because they tap into things that we've either seen or experienced first hand in our very own lives. 

That's why the final plot twist feels so frustrating. Everything else that has happened comes from a place of real human emotion, while the plot twist seems like one of those moments that has been thrown into the mix to create an ahhh moment. The twist does nothing to bring closure to the story involving the main characters.  And since the twist does nothing to provide us with additional insight into the main characters, it's there as a cheap gimmick to try and shock or surprise us.

It's a shame that The Returned lacked the courage to follow through with its story until the end, because the material taps into the darkest side of human nature and that's what makes it so effective and the ending, all the more disappointing. [Not Rated] 98 mins.

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