Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist

February 18, 2014

The Returned

Filed under: Film — louisproyect @ 5:31 pm

For only $6.99 on ITunes, “The Returned” would be a bargain at twice the price. Nominally a zombie movie, it is much more about the horrors of a “normal” society that seeks to quarantine and perhaps ultimately wipe out “the returned”—those people whose zombie tendencies are suppressed by a medication dispensed in hospitals and clinics. Just one injection a day and you are good to go.

The “returned” zombie in question is Alex (Kris Holden-Ried), a music professor and guitarist who injects himself each day to remain normal, just like a diabetic taking insulin. His wife Kate (Emily Hampshire) is a physician assigned to a clinic that specializes in intensive treatments for the newly “returned” that thanks to the miracle drug are almost ready to return to a normal life.

The only fly in the ointment is that the drug relies on an ingredient found in nature that is rapidly running out. There is a forced march to discover a synthetic drug that will be available before the natural one runs out. The ticking clock has caused a panic in both the general population. The state has decided to round up the “returned” and quarantine them in detention camps, while vigilantes have taken it upon themselves to kill them before the lack of a permanent cure creates a new epidemic.

Throughout the entire film, there is only one brief scene that looks like it belongs in a George Romero production. Mostly the drama revolves around the efforts of Alex and Kate to live normal lives as an increasingly monstrous society bears down on them.

The closest relative to “The Returned” is the 2009 “Daybreakers” that tells the story of vampires who function normally in society but only at the expense of normal people who are hunted down for their blood as research for synthetic blood is accelerated. In both films the contrast drawn between the monster and the normal is meant to serve as social commentary on capitalist society and effectively so. While “The Returned” is a low-budget affair and suffers from a somewhat pat ending, it is a well-acted and intelligent work.

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