out of Five
Running time: 85
Ultimately disappointing thriller, despite strong, atmospheric direction from Asif Kapadia and decent performances.
What's it all about?
Sarah Michelle Gellar does yet another supernatural thriller, although this time it's neither a remake nor a sequel. She plays Joanna Mills, a lonely sales rep who's being stalked by her ex-boyfriend (Adam
Scott) and who has taken to self-harming because of disturbing and mysterious visions of the murder of an unknown woman.
On a routine sales trip, Joanna finds herself drawn to a small town in Texas, a place she finds oddly familiar. There she meets outsider Terry Stahl (Peter O'Brien), who may or may not hold the key to Joanna's visions.
The film does have one genuinely original moment – a creepy take on the old face-in-the-mirror scene that works brilliantly.
Similarly, British director Asif Kapadi (who made The Warrior) uses sparse set design and low-key lighting to create an extremely effective atmosphere, it's just a shame that the plot can't live up to the direction.
Gellar, of course, can do this sort of thing in her sleep and she's fine here, although the fact that her character is largely depressed for most of the film makes for uncomfortable viewing. There's also strong support from Australian actor Peter O'Brien, although the film completely wastes Kate Beahan in a tiny part as Joanna's friend.
The main problem with The Return is that nothing really happens for the first half of the film. Indeed, Joanna doesn't even seem all that concerned about her visions till about three quarters of the way in.
Similarly, the film just isn't creepy enough to really work properly and there's an over-reliance on sudden soundtrack noises in place of actual scares. Essentially, Joanna is occasionally menaced by a shadowy redneck and that's about it.
Despite the best efforts of both director and cast, this is ultimately disappointing, thanks to a lacklustre script that fails to properly exploit its premise.
Return, The (2007) (15)