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The Return
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The Return (2006)

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Plot Summary:
"Joanna Mills (Gellar), a traveling business woman, begins having nightmares of a murder that occurred 15 years ago. Soon she is drawn to an old farmhouse, where the murder took place."

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 13 March 2007 My Rating: out of 5


Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as Joanna Mills in this seriously underrated supernatural thriller which sees her experience frightening visions which lead her to a small Texan town where she unwittingly solves a murder which may be her own.

The biggest problem with The Return is the marketing. It looks like a horror film when viewing trailers, TV spots and artwork but if you’re expecting it to be as scary as any of Sarah’s previous genre efforts you’ll be sadly disappointed.

The film looks absolutely gorgeous with a very cold colour palette eerily contrasting with the warm Texas sunshine, has a small and very talented cast at its core, and is well paced with enough creepy goings on to keep you hooked as the story develops. It has good use of CG, interesting camera angles (loved the overhead work) and even some cool stunt work (loved that car crash) but the weakest element is probably the screenplay. I for one found the story to be intriguing throughout, but many others have complained of too many ‘plot holes’ which is unfair in my opinion. You think because the director wants you to use your brain and you can’t find the answers that plot points should be deemed ‘plot holes’? My two main problems with the script (and they were minor grumbles if anything) were the obvious red-herring character, played well by Adam Scott. It seemed fairly obvious to me that we were supposed to suspect Kurt was more devious than he actually was, and this came across too heavy handed for my liking. The second grumble was that the ending became clear before it was revealed. This may have ruined the reveal for some people, but I had enjoyed the film, so was actually quite happy to sit back and watch the last pieces of the puzzle fall perfectly into place.

People may assume that I am biased in my worship for SMG, but the fact of the matter is it was so refreshing to see a slow burning thriller that wasn’t a remake or stuffed full of gore get a theatrical release. The film didn’t go down too well in the US last November, most likely because they chucked it out hot on the heels of The Grudge 2 and branded it horror in the hopes that teenaged girls would run to multiplexes in need of a fright fix. The Return is an intelligent thriller with real heart and soul and some very good acting and technical work on display. If you are mature and intelligent and can appreciate a good old fashioned story minus copious amounts of gore, sex and flashy effects then you should hopefully enjoy this chilling and ultimately sad film.

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