A Zombie of a Different Color

The zombie craze has hit a feverish, putrid, brain-eating pitch and doesn’t appear to be slowing down anytime soon. The first zombie movie I remember seeing was Night of the Living Dead, as a teen. After the initial fascination with the physical attributes  (or lack thereof) of the zombies I quickly lost interest because the movie was too slow and the lurching, snarling and flesh dropping was more funny than scary. I wanted to be frightened and this just didn’t do it.

Flash forward to 2010 and the premiere of The Walking Dead on AMC. I tried to watch it, I really did. I watched the first 3 or 4 episodes but, again, the lurching and snarling and flesh dropping got old after the initial fascination with costuming and make-up. And, I mean, how long can a series hold your attention when the premise is just running from the zombies? I even tried watching a few more episodes earlier this year. The two warring camps of humans trying to exist in a world of zombies didn’t excite my imagination. In fact, it reminded me of certain current events. Ugh. I know a lot of people like this series but it’s just not for me. Maybe I just don’t find zombies, in general, very interesting although I do find the idea of people coming back from the dead interesting. And that brings me to a new series on Sundance Channel called The Returned.

The undead on The Returned don’t lurch. They don’t snarl. Flesh doesn’t drop from their bodies. The undead in this series come back looking like themselves when they died. This show isn’t an in-your-face while I eat it spectacle but a nuanced, character driven supernatural what-if formulated by a deft hand. The Returned return to their homes in the French Alps (gorgeous scenery!) not knowing they’ve ever left and their families reactions, and theirs, are varied, tension filled and fascinating. How many of us have wished to see our deceased loved ones just one more time? And, if it were possible, what would be the implications?

The Returned is subtitled, the series comes to America from France, but that, to me, adds an air of mystery and makes one pay closer attention. Two episodes have aired and we are getting to know the main characters:

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Camille, who has been dead for four years, and her family, mother, dad and  twin sister Lena.

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Simon, who has been dead ten years, and his one-time fiancee Adele and her  real-time fiancee Thomas.

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Victor the little boy who we know nothing about except that he’s latched onto Julie and refuses to speak. And he’s very, very creepy.
There are other characters, of course, but these are the main ones we’re introduced to in the first two episodes.

The Returned airs on Thursday nights at 8 central time. I can’t wait for the next episode. Not since Top of the Lake (another quality Sundance production and I can’t wait for season 2) have I been so captivated with a TV show. And unlike most “zombie” shows, I can’t predict the outcome.

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