Review by Jack Foley
THE Return marks the first film in five years from promising young director Asif Kapadia, whose celebrated debut The Warrior was a Bafta-winning success.
Sadly, it’s a mixed-up and largely pointless horror film that does nothing to enhance his reputation, or further the career progress of former Buffy star Sarah Michelle Gellar who takes the thankless leading role.
Gellar stars as travelling sales rep Joanna who returns to her home state of Texas on a business trip and begins suffering from hallucinations that seem linked to an accident from her childhood and the fate of a mysterious woman.
When she becomes involved with local loner Terry (Shane Ramsey), who has also just returned to town, the mystery behind her visions starts to unfold and eventually places both of their lives in danger.
As intriguing as the concept sounds, The Return is frequently let down by some half-hearted direction and some equally uninterested performances.
Kapadia’s direction relies on cheap shock tactics and unlikely plot twists to try and sustain the tension but only succeeds in losing the viewers’ interest, while the wafer-thin characters provided by Adam Sussman’s unconvincing screenplay simply aren’t worth investing time in.
Gellar’s central character is particularly disappointing, as the actress seems content to merely conform to standard horror stereotype (such as walking into deserted houses alone) without ever hinting at any emotional depth.
But Ramsey (of Neighbours fame) fares little better, playing it mean and moody without really doing anything to impress.
The uninspired conclusion attempts to add something deep and meaningful to the story but also feels bodged and slightly drawn out, bringing nothing new to the genre whatsoever.
The result is a major misfire from all concerned and one that’s best avoided by audiences.
Running time: 85mins