Zombie Movie Review: They Came Back

AKA Les Revenants

This film is showing on Netflix Instant US. Visit Blog of the Living Dead for details.

vector image for the zombie movie They Came Back

vector image for the zombie movie They Came Back

While many people view the zombie genre as pure low-brow trash all the way, those of us in-the-know are well aware that there is a lot more to the undead than just gore and nudity. Sadly, this pretentious French number is in the latter category, with not a trashy gore shot in sight, and nudity that is far too tasteful and ‘relevant to the plot’. Urgh.

‘They Came Back’ chronicles an unexplained phenomenon in a French city when those who have died within the last 10 years return back, and the effect this has on those they had originally left behind. Although there are hundreds of these recently deceased the story focuses on 3 of these characters – a young boy, a 30-something man and a crusty old lady. These dead chaps, along with all the other zombies are held in a refugee asylum-type building by the city council until the relatives come to collect them. The parents of the young boy come for him at some point, but the ex-wife of the gent isn’t too bothered so he just potters around and eventually decides to go back to work at what appears to be the town planning department. The old lady seems to belong to the city mayor or something, but he too isn’t too excited about her coming back either.

After a (long) while and plenty of council meetings it emerges these dead people are, predictably, pretty rubbish at more or less everything, which is a shame because the families of these people seem to be getting attached to them again. Actually, one thing the dead are reasonably good at is escaping their relatives in the middle of the night and going for meetings with each other. They’re all planning an excursion out to an unmentioned place, presumably back where they came from. How will the relatives that have just come to terms with the returners cope with this upheaval? Well the answer to that question, as well as all the others thrown up in this movie is… whatever you want.

Everything is so open to interpretation it makes the film almost meaningless. There is no discussion as to how the families actually feel about their relatives coming back from the dead, nor how they felt about them while they were still alive. There is no comment made about the relationships between the relatives of each of the returnees, and no analysis of death itself. The whole film seems structured to leave every possible question open to the viewer to decide. If the film makers didn’t have anything to actually say about death then why make the film in the first place?

It would have been better to concentrate on one of the families and the relationship between those still alive and the actual impact that the dead relatives’ re-appearance has on their whole lives, rather that the endless council meetings and irrelevant scientific discussions about body-temperature.

Gore Score F
Norks Score D
Originality Score B
Overall Score C-

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