The Return - quick review

Patrick Sun

Senior HTF Member
Jun 30, 1999
The best thing I can say about this film starring Sarah Michelle Geller is that it's basically a 22 minute Twilight Zone episode stretched out to over 80 minutes. They could have added to the title: "Run Sarah Run" because she does a lot of running in the film.

See it only if you must see all of SMG's movies.

I give it 1.75 stars, or a grade of C-.


Senior HTF Member
Aug 19, 2002
Never even heard of this film! Sounds dreadful.

Anyway, I thought the thread was about the Russian film The Return from a couple years ago which I thought was really very interesting and I recommend it.


Supporting Actor
May 7, 2004
I saw The Return yesterday and should start out by saying that it's DEFINITELY not a horror film. I hate to get all pretentious about it, but it's really not. There's a supernatural element to the story, but it's hardly exploited for chills, rather it exists to drive the story along and help our main character obtain piece of mind.

A somber-eyed Sarah Michelle Gellar stars as a woman plagued by constant misery that she can't explain. On a business trip to Texas (where she was born and raised) she's besieged by bizarre memories that aren't her own (or are they?).

Haunted by these memories and experience she begins to dig into her own troubled past and soon uncovers a puzzle involving her father (Sam Shepard-good to see him again) and a mystery man who may or may not be a killer.

The film is almost entirely on the shoulders of Gellar, whose performance is nicely understated. We're with her for the duration of the running time as she wanders around the bleak-looking landscape of La Salle, Texas trying to uncover the source of her experience. She's very good at conveying the mental burdens of her character (a lot of time without dialogue) and because of this, the film is a stronger experience.

It's also incredibly well shot by director Asif Kapadia. Visually it reminded me of a film that I absolutely did not like, 21 Grams. But you should get the idea.

The two biggest problems are that while the story is pretty good and tight, it doesn't produce as much danger or tension as it should've. Maybe this is a result of my own preconceptions as this WAS advertised as a horror film, but I couldn't help but feel as though it needed a bit of umph somewhere along the line (some of the creepier parts of the trailer are not even in the film, which is baffling). Secondly, when the film reaches its climax, it isn't suspenseful or scary and that's a detriment.

One of my favorite things about The Return is its deliberately slow pace. It felt like a throwback to the horror films of the 70s, which required its audience to sit back and actually watch the film without throwing action into the mix every ten minutes.

This isn't a film for braindead teens and it will NOT play very well to their kind as they flock to see it this weekend.

So The Return isn't great but it's a worthwhile film in my opinion. Granted I'm biased because I've got a thing for its star, but please remember that I didn't reccommend either Grudge film to anyone. I'm capable of separating a movie's quality from my attraction to its star, rest assured.

This isn't without flaws, but it is refreshing to see a slow-paced, adult oriented film again. At the moment, there is no shortage of them in theatres and I'm not sure this one needs to be seen on the big screen, but it is worth a look. At least to me.


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