The dead are rising (and they all speak French)
I watched the premiere of a fantastic new series (well, new to the US – it has already aired across the Atlantic) on Sunday called The Returned. It’s a show about the dead rising and returning to life. Sounds familiar, no? Only, here’s the catch – they are not soulless, flesh eating zombies, hungry for brains. They’re just, well, hungry (for sandwiches). In it’s own way though, The Returned is already genuinely more scary and creepy than the far gorier The Walking Dead has ever managed to be, even on its good days. (Only light spoilers here, nothing to keep you from enjoying the show.)
It’s a fascinating concept and explores a larger psychological question: what happens to the friends and family of these newly resurrected people (there’s a subtle though perhaps unintentional reference to a great zombie joke where the characters are reluctant to use the word “resurrected” when talking about the phenomenon they witnessing, much like Shaun in Shaun of the Dead doesn’t like Ed to use “the zed word.” I laughed at least.) Ok, what the heck was I saying? Oh yes. The Resurrected takes a very unique and fascinating angle by not casting the newly returned dead as monsters. They just exist, exactly as they did when they died.
The “horror” such as it is derives from examining the reactions and effect of their return on the people who loved them most (not to mention some fantastic and claustrophobic atmospherics.) How would you react if, after years of grieving and trying to “move on,” a person you loved dearly suddenly returned, exactly as you knew them and unaware that they had been gone? Only you have aged and changed and in many cases started a new life. Or in one prominently featured storyline, what if this return was exactly what you had been praying for to happen? There’s a particularly devastating scene between two twin sisters that involved a simple, familiar ritual returning after four years that was as devastating and haunting as anything you’ll see on TV this year.
Anyway, I don’t want to say more other than please watch this series. It premiered last week and airs Thursdays at 9:00 PM on Sundance channel. I think it’s probably essential to view before picking the series up, so seek it out on On Demand or subsequent airings before picking up the series live. This is definitely one of those series that will be binged watched by many online or in a marathon rebroadcast after word of mouth of those of us who caught it from the beginning spreads. One small warning, it is broadcast in the original French with subtitles, so don’t say you weren’t warned, but it does not distract from the experience at all.