I don’t know how this show slipped by me. I try to keep up with every good foreign TV show but every now and then there’s always one where I am late to the party. I saw the remake on Netflix just as my father-in-law was telling me how much he loved the original and was hooked in by the mysterious elements. I thought I would do a bit of an experiment and try watching the remake first. I made it to about the third episode. The story was interesting but it was so utterly devoid of style and suspense that I couldn’t stick with it. After watching one episode of the original I was hooked.
I am not going to give away much as I went into the show knowing nothing about it and I think it was more enjoyable that way.
In a small French village set in the mountains the dead are starting to return to their loved ones. A young girl makes her way home to her family with no idea that’s she’s dead, has been for three years and hasn’t aged a day. As more of the returned, erm, return the town starts to experience power outages and the water levels in the reservoir start to lower to reveal…well, you’ll just have to watch it to find out.
Six months after the returned disappeared into the mountains they’re starting to return in bigger numbers…
Every part of the show is flawless from the writing to the stunning scenery, suspense-building, soundtrack and acting. My only criticism of the show is that season two felt a little lack-luster only because it presents itself with what I like to call “who killed Laura Palmer syndrome”. What makes the show great is the mystery and suspense, and while the show retains a lot of mystery it still had to explain itself a bit more which I think is why the second season feels a little less exciting . While the second season lacks some excitement its exploration of isolation and loneliness through characters that are usually so devoid of humanity that you don’t see the dead as dead is great. I really liked this aspect of this show and found myself so emotionally invested in certain characters to the point that I demand a Julie and Victor/Louis spin-off.
I haven’t read what critics or fans say of the show but I know there’ll be a Twin Peaks comparison out there. I was kind of surprised a Twin Peaks-ish tagline wasn’t slapped on the artwork. It’s much more akin to something like Let the Right One In. Its horror and supernatural elements are ones that unsettle rather than disturb. Apart from being set in an isolated mountain town there’s not anything to resemble Twin Peaks. Sure there’s some atmospheric scenes but The Returned is far more suspenseful and mysterious and is totally devoid of humour and surrealism that is in Twin Peaks. If you’re not a fan of slow-burn, atmospheric supernatural horror then Wayward Pines might be more up your alley, the TP clone label applies greatly to that show.
There’s such a maturity to this series that lacks in horror which is refreshing. The exploration of human emotions flourish in this show and it’s great to watch horror be elevated to an art form. I am not a fan of Indie Horror at all but this is what it should be. The Returned are essentially zombies, I never really viewed them as such but if one views it as another entry in the zombie cannon then the zombie genre is not done with and this show has raised the bar.
A plus is that it ends well, not all of the minutia is answered but it’s satisfying enough that well this viewer didn’t revolt during such episode finales as Lost and Dexter.
If you haven’t seen it yet go out and buy it, these are characters you never want to let go of. No word on a third series so this viewer is off to track down the book the show is based on.