The Return

2007-08-03 17:24
What it’s about:

A successful but troubled young sales rep (Sarah Michelle Gellar) is driven by strange visions and nightmares to a bleak Texan town. Once there she meets an outcast (Peter O'Brien), and uncovers the horrifying event that has marked both their lives.

What we thought of it:

Sarah Michelle Gellar is grumpy. Then again, you would be too if you’d gone from being a global TV star in Buffy The Vampire Slayer to acting in second-rate remakes of Japanese horror films like The Grudge. And while The Return may be slightly more respectable than Scooby Doo 2: Monsters Unleashed, it’s no Kramer Vs. Kramer. Hell, it isn’t even as compelling as that unnecessary sequel to The Ring.

It’s not that it’s badly put together. On the contrary, British director Asif Kapadia has a deft touch with the camera, painting small town America as a place of bleak alienation and broken dreams. Sure he has borrowed much of the aesthetic from Japanese hair-horror, including the washed out palette and the dreamy, contemplative framing, but he executes it with aplomb.

The problem is that said hair-horrors, however risible and obscure, are often quite scary while The Return is, at a stretch, a little creepy. It’s one of those movies where, for minutes on end, no one says anything and nothing happens. And then something “dramatic” happens like Sarah Michelle Gellar glances in the mirror and sees her eyes have changed colour. Oh no! Call the exorcists!

To be fair there is this creepy guy with a chain who keeps appearing and disappearing, and she has these freaky dreams and visions about a women who looks a lot like her. But when it comes down to it, the movie is all promise and not very much delivery. Sure the plot is neatly written, and wraps up nicely at the end, but it just doesn’t sustain our interest along the way.

A large part of the problem is Ms Grumpy Gellar. How are you supposed to identify with a character who spends the whole movie moping? After the sixth or seventh “vision” you just want to shake her and say “Snap out of it and tell someone what’s happening!”. She even goes to see her dad (played by that grizzled genius Sam Shepard), but does she say “Dad I’m freaking out”? On no, she just yells at him about her childhood and hightails it out of there. This might be the screenwriter’s fault and not Gellar’s, but boy is it frustrating.

In the end watching The Return is a little like putting a large puzzle together without the box. Sure, it passes the time, but by the time you get halfway through you can already see what it is, and it isn’t very inspiring.

- Alistair Fairweather
Sarah Michelle Gellar’s new movie has the looks of a Japanese hair-horror and the pretensions of a psycho-thriller, but below the façade is a whole lotta nothin'.

Psymon 2007/07/17 10:49 AM
Grumpy Gellar Alistair, I went to see this movie last week. Not out of choice, but harry Potter, Die hard 4.0 and Fantastic 4 were all sold out. So, I thought well you know, the grudge wasnt "TOO" bad, this cant be worse... BOY was I wrong. This is the MOST pointless film ive ever seen, I spent the entire film TRYING to figure out what the hell was going on. Scene to scene, "Is this a flash back?? is she freeking out? is this a dream??? is the dide with the hooks and chains Real??" Only in the last 10mins does EVERYTHING come together, but by that time I had made up my mind that the movies was, excuse the french, but SH*T. Luckily its not the longest film ever, as I probably would have walked out. grumpy gellar should have stuck to TV and not the big screen.
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