When is a zombie not a zombie? This French drama, The Returned, turns that riddle into an affecting meditation on grief, as well as a mystery so gripping, Carlton Cuse (Lost) is in talks to adapt it for U.S. television. Four years after a fatal bus accident, people who’ve been presumed dead reappear in their Alpine village. Have they really been brought back to life? If so, it’s a mixed blessing: 15-year-old Camille (Yara Pilartz) can’t quite reconnect with her twin, Léna (Jenna Thiam), who’s older now. Simon (Pierre Perrier) finds his fiancée engaged to another man. Meanwhile, a mysterious boy (Swann Nambotin) is lurking at bus stops and a cannibalistic serial killer (Guillaume Gouix) is on the loose. Most of the resurrected aren’t the organ-gnawing types, which makes the story smarter than your average undead drama. Zombiedom is an existential problem here, used to explore everything from religion (a priest points out that Jesus also rose from the grave) to teenage isolation (Camille complains that people treat her as if she doesn’t exist — and maybe she doesn’t). It’s all deeply French and impossibly chic: the moody music by Mogwai, the darkly lit make-out session between two lesbians in leather catsuits, the beautiful shots of an apple-cheeked girl puffing a cigarette. By the end, it’s unclear which of these people are alive or dead, literally or spiritually. But The Returned still qualifies as a new zombie classic — a haunting tribute to the lost loves who feed on your brain forever. A
A ZOMBIE DRAMA WITH A BRAIN The Returned is a smart, French take on the zombie genre. (Jean Claude Lother/Sundance Channel)
Genre: drama; Starring: Pierre Perrier, Yara Pilartz; Broadcaster: Sundance Channel
Posted December 16 2013 — 12:00 AM EST
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