The plague of zombie movies is in no danger of being defeated, but The Returned has found a way to breathe new life into the genre. In the movie’s universe the zombie plague has been mitigated by a “cure” that must be administered in the first 36 hours and then continued to be administered once a day for life. This has separated society into two groups of people, uninfected and The Returned.
The main protagonists in the film are a doctor named Kate (Emily Hampshire) and her boyfriend Alex (Kris Holden-Ried). She is on the forefront of research into The Returned and he is one. Believe it or not the main antagonists are not the zombies; and yes they actually use the term zombie, as a derogatory term for The Returned though. The villains are more ambiguous, changing from the government, to friends they once trusted, and random people on the street.
The plot of the movie revolves around a diminishing supply of the drug that keeps people from becoming zombies. This causes a wave of terrorist attacks against Return centers, people breaking in and killing the patients in their beds. It also causes The Returned to be rounded up World War 2 internment camp style. When this happens, Kris and Alex take off with their best friends to a cabin in the country.
This movie is more than just another zombie movie. It does what the Walking Dead tv show tries to do. Focusing on the struggles of individuals living in a world where people become cannibalistic monsters. Asking questions like, what makes one life more valuable than another? How do you cope with imminent death of a loved one when there is nothing you can do to save them? What do people do when they see no hope for their future? I really enjoyed the civil rights allegory in this film. In one scene Alex “comes out” to his friends as one of The Returned, and they accept him in open arms. If only the rest of society were as open minded.
This is definitely a movie every zombie genre fan should check out. Some will probably be disappointed with the lack of blood, guts, gore, and zombie killing action. The movie is not completely devoid of it, there are a few scenes to quench your bloodlust. But the intelligent zombie fan will appreciate the fresh take on the genre and hopefully understand the subtext.
The Returned is available on Amazon Instant and other VOD services.