Zombies are the new black, at least when it comes to entertainment. With success of The Walking Dead, Americans cannot seem to get enough brains. Most projects take an apocalyptic tone with only a handful that deal with the zombies as actual characters who are capable of rehabilitation such as the film Warm Bodies and the excellent British series, In the Flesh. It is in this grey area that the latest French series “Les Revenants,” or The Returned, thrives.
As the title suggests, the series revolves around a group of local townspeople who for reasons unexplained, “return” to their homes and families from the grave, much to the shock, horror and relief of their loved ones. They are not gruesome, or walking corpses but simply wake up looking like the day they died, whether it was early aughts, the ’80s or the ’30s, with no recollection of dying. This abrupt reintroduction into their families’ lives invites a sliding scale of reactions: from delusion, to disgust and unbridled joy. As much as The Returned shrouds itself in mystery with some supernatural elements at play, it is really about the stages of grief and how we handle death. Leave it to the French to get all brooding about zombies.
The cast is nothing short of spectacular, and we expect Jenna Thiam to be a household name in the very near future. Of course, because it’s French television, there’s plenty of teenagers chain smoking and having sex, realistic lesbian relationships and a lack of excessive violence. After being turned onto the series by some of our French friends, we marathoned the whole first season in one sitting. Since the series aired all over the Europe and earned a cult following, it will now be airing on the Sundance Channel, on Halloween naturally. With an American remake already in the works for A&E, now is your chance to view the original series before it gets put through the Hollywood machine. Will they have another The Killing on their hands or a revised flop? We’ll have to wait and see.