So what if the dead came back suddenly and instead of being flesh-eating monsters they were clean and healthy and dressed in nice clothing and wanted nothing more than to have their old jobs back and be reunited with their families?
Such is the dilemma that presents in the French film, Les Revenants (They Came Back). The first scene of the movie is of the dead causally strolling out of a small cemetery in a little French Town. At first the viewer is not sure who these people are, as they are dressed in mostly pastel colors and they all seem healthy and normal, if not somewhat dazed. Through a voice over we learn that for several hours one day, through out the world, anyone who has died in the last ten years has come back; and they’ve returned in perfect health and, seemingly, after a trip to the Gap (do the French bury their dead in khakis or sundresses?).
The local government of the small town treats the returnees like refugees and sets up some make-shift dormitories for them, all the while trying to figure how they can re-assimilate these people back into society. After they’ve given up trying to figure why and how the dead came back, they have to tackle the social and financial effects of a few hundred thousand extra bodies.
Early on it is discovered that the dead are about five degrees cooler in body temperature and that they don’t sleep at night (they just pretend to sleep). More and more it is noticed that the returned are also functioning like mildly autistic people, echoing what they hear from those around them and not interacting with normal people.
Soon it is found out that at night, groups of the returnees are meeting in secret and planning something. These scenes are some of the more chilling moments in an otherwise dry and slow moving movie…
…yes, there is a major problem with this film, and that is, once the fascinating premise is presented, the movie has no where to go and the wrap up is vague and very unsatisfying. The viewer is left with more questions than answers and might find him-self saying, “What was that all about?”
I consider myself a relatively bright person, yet I did not understand what the purpose of this tale was…if anyone else has seen it, I’d appreciate his or her two cents as I am kind of stumped. That’s not to say that I did not enjoy it; the first hour or so of They Came Back is moody and hypnotizing, however after that, it just kind of stumbles around like … well, like a zombie bumping into walls.
*originally posted on my main blog: 7/23/05