Screenwriter Hatem Khraiche enters into the horror genre with his script that takes the zombie genre, into a very new path, where perhaps only experimented by Warm Bodies and briefly touched on by Shaun of the Dead, however neither of these productions ever progress as far as Hatem social generating understanding of the entire species of humans and zombies. Director Manuel Carballo, who understands the horror genre, extremely well, and the cinematography, as he started as a camera trainee on Stuart Gordon’s Dagon (2001) and steadily climbed through the ranks taking the director seat with Exorcismus (2010) , and now brings The Returned as a dramatic horror with enduring love story bubbling over brim of this emotional pack film.
The film centers itself in a post-zombie world, where the recently infected now live normal lives by administrating the injection once a day, thanks to doctors and their creation, of a treatment called “Return Protein”, however a new crisis affects all of humanity in a completely in way. A crisis actually cause by the cure, the protein comes from zombies and the lack of them, results in a shortage, and a rush to try to synthesize the cure, without the drug the millions of “Returned” with transform into zombies, after 36 hours. Then enter into the mix, a love story involving to kindred spirits Kate and Alex a couple with thorough devotion to each other that transcends rational thoughts or does it, exploring the depths of love and death, with wandering convictions. Kate (Emily Hampshire) a leading doctor in the field zombie harvesting and recreation, and Alex (Kris Holden-Ried) a musician with a deep secret, who loves to create, as does Kate, creating a new breed of humans. Emily’s and Kris’ character truly convey a deep meaningful bond, the binds them together, and relates it successfully to the audience, past arguments, rational thinking, overwhelming rejoicing, agonies and tears, true realism.
First, this is not a gore fest, except for one scene, rather a social provoking look at and about the prejudice concocted ignorance and fear, and perhaps a hint toward the health care systems protection of private information. The entire flick adds a new depth and dimension to the genre while creating new controversies for society to balance and collectively fear, as to the approximate to the zombie plague, that which rises the drama, and challenges fans simple ideology of humans versus zombies mentality. Hatem includes social, moral and political stands, and ramifications, but avoids the paradox of religious views, which might just sent the film into the stratosphere of horror lore. Many fans on forum sites and at conventions enjoy the zombie discussions, as it allows for the comparisons back to society and normalcy while facing vastly diverse subject material. However, the exclusion of religion, a notable error, when dealing with these complex standpoints, even on fractional basis, the film missed the opportunity. Furthering the point along, about omitting religion, the film takes from society’s past behaviors paralleling them to HIV/AIDS from the 1980s, condemning those for acquiring it as sins against god, and denouncing doctors for striving for vaccinations and cures. Some individuals suggested concentration camps to store the infected in, and even those that society supposedly objected to in addition. This view express in the movie too, the protestors, after learning about the shortage, turn into murderers, or are they, preserving the human race. The action, supported by the police, and government, to arrest those of suspicion and that were known carries of the zombie plague, rightly or wrongly with a positive outlook, as oppose to pessimistic protecting them from fear and growing hatred. However, the screenplay and visuals go deeper into the recesses of society, exposing a deadly narrow-minded view of fascist, and willingness to kill anyone that opposes the views of the select few.
Manuel brings Hatem’s screenplay to life, with wonderful insight to the righteous and exposing the light on the negative aspects of life and society in general while, the cast provide true human emotion, to give an effective involving story, filled with conscious decisions, complete with plot twists, just as in life, there’s no straight-forward line to follow. Every action takes serious steps to express the pace, large disbursements of emotions, balance with solid from the crew’s sets, slick impressive looks, leading a willing audience. As for the zombies, they fluttered in the background, for this truly is not a film about them, but rather about us.