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Paul Greenwood

Published January 19th, 2007 | by Paul Greenwood

The Return Review

Classification: 12A Director: Asif Kapadia Rating: 1/5

Sometimes it’s quite welcome when a press screening allows you the opportunity for a nice mid morning nap. Mostly though, I’d rather the film was good. Which brings us neatly to The Return, a snooze-fest of epic proportions, and probably the longest eighty minute film you’ll ever see.

Gellar plays Joanna, a successful travelling sales rep with a phobia about Texas. As a young girl growing up there, she had some sort of bad experience which caused her to change and grow distant from her father (Shepard) and she hasn’t been back for years. When she does finally return there on business, she’s troubled by visions of a town she’s never been to and a man she’s never met. Heading there, she’s helped by a guy with a mysterious past (O’Brien), but her hallucinations are only getting worse and she could be in danger. From someone. Or something. Maybe.

I’m all for a bit of deliberate pacing in my horror films (helps with the atmos’, lets the tension build, that kind of thing) but this is just taking the piss. Seriously, not one single thing of note happens during the entire duration of this movie. Not one scene moves the plot forward, not one conversation reveals anything about the characters. No cliché is too hoary to be left out – the wonky car radio, the apparitions in the mirror – and to cap it all, it doesn’t make a lick of sense. Seemingly important characters disappear completely and Joanna should clearly be hospitalised.

Maybe it’s scary in a low key, ghosty kind of way? No, it’s lifeless and pointless and the actors appear catatonic. There’s a half hearted stab at Lynchian weirdness that doesn’t amount to much. And you know it’s trying to build to a big payoff, but it all moves at such a leaden walk that any revelations really have to be worth the wait. They are not. Kapadia’s last feature was The Warrior, a stunning film whose languid pace suited it perfectly. Here, he limits his direction to occasionally having the orchestra blare out to make sure your snoring doesn’t disturb those who’ve managed to make it through without drooling on themselves.


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