In addition to the usual reviews and comments you would find on a horror movie blog, this is also a document of the wonderfully vast horror movie section of the video store I worked at in my youth.

Monday, July 5, 2010

They Came Back.

Today I’m going to throw out some thoughts about a little film that Cory over at The Inevitable Zombie Apocalypse brought to my attention during his recent month-long movie marathon. It’s a French production called Les Revenants, aka They Came Back.

Without warning, the recently dead come back to life and begin walking the streets. Besides being in varied degrees of catatonia, they are all completely awake and healthy. The inhabitants of a small French town begin the process of reuniting them with loved ones and reintegrating them into society.

Les Revenants is a strange little film. Obviously, there was some initial suspension of disbelief needed - the "returnees" streaming from the town’s cemetery are neither decomposed nor largely wearing what they likely would have been buried in – but considering how rare it is that a "zombie" film tries to do something original with the genre, I was willing to cut it some slack.

This was fairly easy to do because the film is both beautifully shot and wonderfully acted. Les Revenants is wholly a mood piece where very little happens, yet it is still managed to keep me engaged. You get this feeling that there is something sinister going on, but only by way of music and visuals, rather than action. I just wish the conclusion had been more satisfying. I think I understand what director Robin Campillo was going for, but I guess I've been conditioned to always expect a punchline. This wasn't helped by the fact that I was reminded of M Night's flicks while watching the movie. The same brooding narrative is at play here, but considering Shamhammer's last three or four efforts have been completely laughable, I guess I should be thankful Les Revenants didn't end with a twist.

Waaaay creepier than that crazy plant lady from The Happening.

While it is slow at times, Les Revenants at least held my interest, which is more than I can say for some European mood pieces I've seen over the years. I find it difficult to recommend this movie, though I can't write it off either. It had a truly interesting premise, which uses genre tropes to explore, but it never quite pays off.


Anonymous said...

Funny thing about this French zombie flick you mentioned - I actually rented it from Ballbuster, I think, a couple of years ago. But like you say, the pacing it kinda slow. I was a little too innebriated to make it to the ending, tho...

What I do remember, was the general creepiness of the French society trying to reabsorb the previous dead into their prior roles in society.

Sometimes in my sleep, I reimagine my father still being alive and going about his regular life, but I feel very concerned that he will suddenly die again somehow because of it.

Anonymous said...


Yeah, M Nite has laid a lot of eggs since he made Unbreakable, but I gotta give him some credit for The Happening. If you take it too seriously, yeah, it's a crappy film. But there are a lot of bad horror films, and you have to approach them with the right frame of mind. Similarly with his death by WIND in that movie.