The Returned opens in a small mountain community which is rocked to its core when several local people who are presumed dead suddenly re-appear at their homes. Despite having passed away some years earlier, these ghostly characters appear in human form, they have not aged, and they are completely unaware of their own fatality. Determined to reclaim their lives and start over, they slowly come to realize that they are not the only ones to have been brought back from the dead. Their return augers torment for their community when a gruesome murder attempt bears a chilling resemblance to the work of a serial killer from the past. This is a homecoming like no other.
Review of Series One:
THE RETURNED, a French TV series tackling a zombie epidemic, is one of the freshest and most inventive pieces of television I’ve watched in a while. Everything about it screams impressive: it boasts wonderful performances from a series of outstanding actors, huge attention to detail, and exceptional technical values from the direction to the camera-work, the set design, you name it. It’s also very well written, with a cast of intriguing characters and just the right level of incident to keep you watching.
Another plus is the horror theme, which for once is handled with maturity and insight into human emotion. These aren’t clichéd, flesh-eating zombies, rather missing loved ones, and watching them return to their family members – who have long since stopped the grieving process – is heartbreaking. The horror comes from a growing sense of mystery, of an increasing foreboding, enhanced by some excellent, long-held musical notes which send suspense levels through the roof. It truly doesn’t get much better than this, and it puts Hollywood to shame.
If there’s one problem with THE RETURNED, it’s that it ends up incredibly frustrating, because it answers very few of the many, many questions it raises. By the end of the last episode of season one, we’re no closer to the truth of the matter than we were at the beginning of the first episode, which is a real pity; the audience will only go along with you for so long, and there should have been some real, concrete answers to sweeten the mix. As it is, we’re now forced to wait – for a very long time – for the second series, which should hopefully provide at least some explanation as to what it’s all about.
Creator: Fabrice Gobert
Stars: Anne Consigny, Clotilde Hesme, Frédéric Pierrot
Release Date: 31 October 2013 (USA)
Also Known As: The Returned
Filming Locations: Haute Savoie Alps, France