Tuesday, January 5, 2016

The Returned Season One

les revenants

I recently tried to watch Z Nation, the SyFy TV show now on Netflix. I lasted a total of 20 minutes which was at least twice as long as I actually gave a fuck about what I was seeing on the screen, but I'm open minded. It was jarringly fast paced which might be a good way to start a video game, but for something less interactive, I need a moment to figure out exactly what the hell I'm supposed to be looking at before you jump to some other crazy thing in the most jarring way possible. Actually, that's not even fair. It's not that it was fast - that can sometimes work - it's just that it was bad. In any case, I was hungering for something apocalyptic, so I decided to give another show a spin: The Returned (Les Revenants). It's the complete opposite - slow and drawn out and pretty damn near perfect. 

This French series is based on a movie I'd never heard of called They Came Back (Les Revenants), about a bunch of people in a small village in the mountains of France coming back from the dead. But this is not what you'd expect, or maybe it is, given it's French. There's no gory zombies or anyone getting their head bashed in. Instead the horror is about dealing with loss, from the point of the view of the families that had lost loved ones as well as from the perspective of the returned themselves who come back to a world that has moved on without them. It's loss, but also, in a weird way, the loss of loss, that's traumatic. There is some real human drama playing out here while a deeper mystery about how and why the dead have come back unfolds, episode by episode, never showing all the cards at once. 

les revenants

There are some genuinely creepy situations in the series, but interestingly, I'm more creeped out by how nonchalant the French can be, even at their supposedly most shocked. There was an attempt at an American version of this show and it was apparently cancelled almost immediately. I bet it's because the tone was way off for American audiences who probably need to see the characters lose their shit every ten minutes in order to go with something like this. But that's the thing about this show. It deals with the reality of getting your loved one back. Yeah, the impossibility of that happening would likely freak you out, but a bigger part of you would likely be happy to see them again. And the dichotomy of those two feelings is where the drama lies here.

Anyway, the first season ended with a hell of a bang and I can't even imagine what is next. The second season already aired in France, so I need to track it down soon. I'm not sure I can wait for it to get to Netflix. This show is so good, it's had my inner voice thinking in French gibberish for weeks. I really should just learn the damn language at some point.

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