Saturday, January 17, 2015

Just finished watching: Les Revenants

I just finished watching S1 of the French television series Les Revenants or, in subtitles (thank goodness because my French pretty much ended when I graduated from high school), The Returned.  I am of two minds about this horror-tinged show.  On the one hand, I found it interesting, well-acted, beautifully shot and gorgeously atmospheric.  On the other hand, I kept falling asleep.

In a nutshell, The Returned is set in a small town in the French Alps.  All of a sudden one day, some previously deceased townsfolk come back.  With as few spoilers as possible, they are: Camille, a fourteen year old girl who died with her classmates in a school bus crash four years ago; Simon, a sexy young rock-n-roller, who died ten years ago on his wedding day; Victor, a young boy who won't or can't say anything about his past; a local teacher's wife; and Serge, whose many issues have carried over from his life into his death.  These people all look just like they did when they died and don't remember anything about their deaths.  They are all ravenously hungry too - for regular people food, not tasty brains - and don't seem to sleep.  They return to their homes, or what used to be their homes, where the people they left behind are surprised to see them.  As you might imagine.

The series unfolds its stories slowly, taking its time with the characters.  It is wonderfully done, but it also asks all sorts of questions that it has no intention of answering and we as viewers just have to accept the open-endedness. Why these people?  Why not the rest of Camille's classmates?  Why do they look the same?  Why is the reservoir going down?  What do the returned want?  Even by the end of the first season, much remains unanswered.

There's apparently an American remake (of course there is) premiering on A&E in March.  I may have to check it out to see how it varies from what I just watched.  But don't shy away from the French original just because it has subtitles.  Les Revenants/The Returned is both haunting and frightening - two different things - and worth a watch.  Just don't doze off - the subtitles don't do much good that way.  (And if you stick around long enough, there's even a little bit of nicely icky body horror.  Fun!)

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