AKA-THEY CAME BACK
REVIEWED BY-STEVE GENIER DIRECTED BY-ROBIN CAMPILLO CAST-GERALDINE PAILHAS, JONATHAN ZACCAI, FEDERIC PIERROT, VICTOR GARRIVIER and CATHERINE SAMIE. SOURCE-WARNER BROTHERS/WELLSPRING DVD (NTSC R1/2005)
When one thinks of a living dead film, images of rotting flesh, shooting them in the head or gorging on the living. Well, what if I told you LES REVENANTS doesnít touch base with any of these myths. Imagine waking up one morning and hearing a news report that thousands, no millions of people were walking the streets apparently returning from the dead. They look normal, as if they had only been gone for a few days and have just returned. LES REVENANTS deals with just that, how a small town deals with thousands of itís dead returning to reclaim their old lives back. In fact, around the world, those who have been dead for the last ten years, 70 million world wide are returning to the places they have left behind. In LES REVENANTS, the town in question are absorbing the shock of having 13,000 of itís own return from the grave. All seemingly in perfect health. Though there are just a few things that separate them from the way they use to be, they have trouble sleeping at night, bursting with energy, slow in their reactions and interactions with those of the living and their body temperature is 4 degrees lower then that of a living persons. The town struggles to reintegrate them into their own lives as they show odd behavior. Many of them walk at night, not being able to sleep, they meet as if they are planning something. The people of the town struggle to except them back as they once knew them, as the dead have a zombie like state that scare or make the living weary of what is to come.
This is truly a very unique and fresh look at one can take a zombie film and not really make it feel like one. Though the subjects in questions are that of the living dead, they are different from those of the past example we have come to know. Like George A. Romeroís ground breaking NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD did for the genre almost 40 years ago, I believe Robin Campilloís LES REVENANTS is doing once again. Reinventing the zombie/living dead genre not by shoving the usual zombie motifs down your throat, but by giving a subtle yet very hauntingly disturbing vision on something that doesnít seem way off base. Throughout this film you are genuinely given those closed-in claustrophobic atmosphere that creeps you for itís entire 104 minute run. Though the living dead really arenít scary in any normal way, itís their habits that really have you wonder. The storyline supports this in every way as well, just why have they come back? A thought that not only the story pushes, but you are often left wondering this in the back of your head as well. Like the people of the town who struggle to understand this phenomena, you are stuck trying to figure it out as well. Total interaction is the best why to describe this, even though realistically would not really want anything to do with this type of event, director Robin Campilloís deals with what and how we as the living would react to this type of event. One film off the top of my head dealt with this matter in a slightly more zombish way, that being of Bob Clarkís THE NIGHT ANDY CAME HOME or DEATHDREAM. When parents are told that their son is pretty much dead on the fields of Vietnam and then a few days later he returns. Joyous at first until his true cannibalistic habits reveal his true living dead being.
I canít say enough about how this film invokes a subtle fear that haunts you even after it has finished. Nothing on the surface that is truly that scary, but underneath there is a total feeling of unnerving terror. Of course the best display of this is during the areas in which Campillo studies the interactions of the loved ones and how they deal with their returnees on a personal level. Though at first thereís a stand offish feeling at first, then the acceptance and then the fear. Itís the stages in which each of the personal standpoints in LES REVENANTS that really bring the meat to the whole film. When the living are faces with seeing a loved one who has been dead for a certain amount of time, only to one day return. Yet, no matter how much you try to love them and make them feel at home once again, they have a hidden agenda and a direct coldness to it all. What does one do in this case, how does one react, these are all major elements that drive this film.
Like the total completeness of LES REVENANTS storyline is, so is the filmís overall performances. All are very solid in their respective roles and that goes for both the living and the dead or shall I say the returnees. The lead of Rachael however played by Geraldine Pailhas was certainly a much more intense one indeed. Her subtle and frail beauty plays best when she comes to terms with the return of her husband Mattieu. At first she plays the in denial widow who wants nothing to do with the possible return of him, carrying on with her daily routine. Only to be confronted one day by him as if nothing has changed, as if they hadnít skipped a beat. Of course this proves to be a huge plate to take on as all that grief she went through during his death, of course the reason behind his death as well, just flows freely from her. The release of all of that gives her new life. This is the main storyline of LES REVENANTS, the others are different but all dive into personal grief and their dealings with them.
I sat down with the Warner Brothers/Wellspring NTSC region 1 release that just recently made itís way to the sleeves. This one came rather quietly I might add, something that will probably stay that way which is pretty much unfortunate given how good this film really is. Anyhow, this release is superior in both itís audio and visual presentations. Presented in an anamorphic wide-screen in itís original French 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound. Both are highly crisp and very clean. On the extras front, we are treated to the "Making of" the film which is presented in French accompanied by English subtitles. Trailers and filmographies are also present on this disc as well. There are two editions I believe, one for the US market and the other for the Canadian market with the only difference on the two is the covers.
STORY/FILM- 4 BITCH SLAPS PICTURE- 4 BITCH SLAPS AUDIO- 4 BITCH SLAPS EXTRAS- 3 BITCH SLAPS OVERALL DVD-3.5 BITCH SLAPS
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