The Return (2006)


The Return (2006) Review

First off, I don't know what all those fanboys see in ex-"Buffy" Sarah Michelle Geller. In The Return she seems shorter than usual, her head just peeking up over the bottom of the screen. And she's haggard here. Sleep deprived with a head of goth-mop hair that I think is supposed to echo those J-horror trollops in schoolgirl uniforms that are around every horror film corner these days. Speaking of horror, though its ad materials paint it as yet another Japanese styled ghost extravaganza The Return is really just one of those slow reincarnation thrillers that littered video store shelves in the '90s.

Geller plays a vacant waif who's on the run from something bad that happened in Texas. Could it have something to do with the car accident she was in when she was a kid? Or how about that phantom stranger we keep seeing flashbacks of? When Geller does return to Texas on business, she starts seeing things and cutting herself. Saved by a grizzled stonewashed denim guy after a near assault, Geller learns that the secret to her hallucinations, the ghostly stalker, and her sour social life lies somewhere deep in the dusty heart of Texas.

Sure, it's familiar claptrap. But the real problem with The Return is that it's as boring as Geller's hair. This flick crawls. To say that The Return moves slowly would be like saying Andy Warhol's 485-minute static shot of the Empire State Building, Empire, is thrilling. Anytime something remotely intriguing happens, The Return picks up briefly. But at the climax of every one of these scenes the action is suddenly curtailed by Geller waking up and realizing it was all a dream. You can just imagine the frustration after the sixth time this happens.

The Return probably should have been a good film. Director Asif Kapadia's BAFTA-nominated The Warrior was a gorgeous and engaging Indian take on samurai legends. Producer Aaron Ryder has Memento and Donnie Darko on his resume. I guess the problem lies with Gellar and scripter Adam Sussman. Not only is the plot a third-rate rehash of an oft-told tale, but Gellar slouches her way through the role seemingly convinced that if she pouts and mumbles she'll be believable as a disturbed woman. Instead the only thing we come away believing is that she was bored out of her mind making this boring movie.

The Return is surely a low point in the on-going battle to scare U.S. teens from their allowances. Neither frightening nor engaging, the film flits lifelessly around Gellar's hollow performance like a bat around a dim bulb.

Eh, don't bother coming back.

Facts and Figures

Reviews 1.5 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: Asif Kapadia

Producer: Aaron Ryder, Jeffery Silver

Starring: as Himself