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Movie Review

The Return

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for violence, terror and disturbing images

Reviewed by: Andy Motz
CONTRIBUTOR

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Moviemaking Quality:

Primary Audience:
Teens, Adults
Genre:
Drama, Supernatural, Thriller
Length:
1 hr. 85 min.
Year of Release:
2006
USA Release:
November 10, 2006 (wide)
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Copyright, Rogue Pictures
Relevant Issues
Featuring: Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kate Beahan, Peter O'Brien (IV), Adam Scott, Sam Shepard
Director: Asif Kapadia
Producer: Marc Evans, Trevor Macy, Aaron Ryder
Distributor: Rogue Pictures

“The past never dies. It kills.”

Dark dreary Texas skies, bizarre music playing on every channel, a 15 year old, unsolved murder, and a lonely woman haunted by headaches and terrible visions serve as the setting and plot for the film “The Return.” I did not have high expectations for this film, at first, but I decided to give it a try. What I found was not a horror film, but a very well done suspense thriller.

The film is about a saleswoman named Joanna. When she was 11 years old, she almost died in a car accident and has never been the same. She is always restless and always on the move. When she decides to visit her old home town, she starts seeing strange visions which lead her to a small Texas town. There she meets Terry, a man who is as lonely and self-contained as she.

That’s all I want to say about the plot, because the movie is better if you don’t know what is going on. During the first 30 minutes, I was getting a little agitated and disoriented. I then realized that was the director’s point, to make you feel how Joanna feels. The director does an excellent job of making you feel empathy for the characters, and drawing you into the eerie surroundings. I would get nervous whenever the camera would get shaky, because I knew that something was going to jump out. The chase scenes were perfectly executed.

The acting in this film was very good. Sarah Michelle Gellar played Joanna to perfection, and I sympathized with her character. The other actors played their parts well. Some standouts were Joanna’s father and Terry.

The script was good, but is also the source of some negative elements. The ending is spiritually-muddled and non-biblical (as is usually the case with ghost stories). Hebrews 9:27 says “…man is destined to die once and after that face judgment.” The ending is interesting, with a fun twist, but it goes against what the Bible says about life and death.

While the movie shows almost no violence, it does imply it. Two people die by stabbing, but it’s not graphic. There are some intense moments involving chains and hooks. As far as sex goes, it’s almost non-existent. One of Joanna’s workers tries to rape her in a totally random scene; there is also a quick dream that Joanna has about Terry and her having sex. The screen is blurry, it’s brief, and you can’t see much. There is one f-word and a couple GD’s, otherwise profanity is minimal.

It’s not an amazing or extraordinary thriller like “The Prestige,” but if you have already seen that, don’t want to sit through the gore in “Saw 3,” waste money on the horrible “Grudge 2,” and don’t mind a spiritually-muddled ending, then “The Return” may intrigue, scare, and surprise you.

Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Minor / Sex/Nudity: Mild


Viewer CommentsSend your comments
Comments below:
Positive
Positive—I think this movie overwall had a well-written plot and point. There were a few words in the movie, but you could barely hear them. I went to see this movie with my daughter, and she loved it. For a scary movie, it was really not that bad. I would not recommend this movie to anyone 11 or younger.
My Ratings: Average / 3½
—Elis, age 37
Negative
Negative—I came out of this theater thinking that I had just seen the world’s first PG-rated slasher flick. Now that that is not necessarily a bad thing, it certainly isn’t a good thing. The director certainly has talent (and I look forward to seeing what he can do with a good script), but this is just an unpleasant story about a rapist/murderer and the memories that haunt a woman who sees visions of the rape/murder victim through her own eyes. It is a largely unpleasant experience, heightened only by the director’s skill and the mystery elements that keep our interest.
My Ratings: Offensive / 2½
—David, age 39
Comments from young people
Positive—This is a solid war survival story with good acting with no nudity some violence and mild language
My Ratings: Better than Average / 3
—Ned F., age 14