Back in 2008, word came from across the pond that a new programme was sweeping across the nation and had just been commissioned by Channel 4 to air here in the autumn. The lead male actor was, by birth, English, the plotlines were outrageous, each episode consisted of gratuitous sex, violence and blood-thirsty vampires. The dawning of a new post-Twilight age. I was sold.
I should point out, it isn't very often I am so compelled from adverts to watch a programme. There are ITV dramas and documentaries I've been meaning to watch and I even missed out on the recent Broadchurch madness! So when Channel 4 began airing clips of the much acclaimed French thriller, 'The Returned', I was sold.
'The Returned', is set in a small French village and tells the story of a world where 'Zombies' return to their lives and wreak placid havoc on the lives of their loved ones. It suggests a world where this 'coming back to life' malarkey is quite commonplace. But, unlike the horror films of yore, The Returned look just like you and I, they don't have an awareness of dying and, for the most part of episode one, tend to stare motionlessly at people.
Compared and contrasted to Sweden's smash hit, 'The Killing', The Returned's strengths of episode 1 lay in it's ability to chill with nothing but atmosphere and character placement. There was an eerie gloom about the town in which it is set, suggesting a population of characters for whom, time has stood still since grieving their various losses. Music, or lack of it at certain points, made for an atmosphere too leading you to believe something menacing was just around the corner, but you couldn't understand what or why. Visually, it reminded me slightly of the film 'The Mothman Prophecies', with very little 'jumps' but a psychologically discomforting 'whirring' of horror. All that said though, I didn't find myself gripped.
These days, if I'm going to invest my time into a TV programme, it really needs to grab my attention from the off. The Returned, unfortunately, failed to do so. Creepy in its premise and artistically shot landscapes, I found the characters and dialogue difficult to empathise with, I'm not one for slashy gore and obvious plotlines (much), but there seemed a little too much silence between me and the characters to suck me in to next week's episode, much like the walking dead, I was left stone cold. I couldn't help but feel 'The Returned' had been a little over-hyped, a classic advertising trick of pacing a slow programme in such an excited manner, that it does nothing but disappoint when the actual hour-long programme airs. Perhaps I need to watch it again, alone, in the absence of a babbling baby, but it didn't quite cut it for me, I'm not sure I'll be tuning in to see the next instalment.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know your thoughts below!