So, this is why doing these marathons is so worthwhile. Yesterday’s film, They Came Back (aka Les Revenants) could not be any more different than the one that preceded it (The Necro Files). Where Necro was gross, amateurish and hilariously bad, They Came Back is polished and thoughtful, if ultimately a little unsatisfying. It’s amazing and wonderful that the zombie genre can encompass both. Were it not for the marathon schedule, I can’t imagine I’d have ever seen them back-to-back like this.
Anyway, TCB starts with the image of masses of people shuffling slowly out of the graveyard. Everyone who died in the past ten years or so has returned without explanation or warning. They all look great and are healthy, apart from some physiological quirks and mental slowness. The film focuses on the effort to reintegrate them into society and the reactions of various people who get their dead loved ones back, from parents of a young child to an elderly widower. Apart from a predilection toward meeting in the middle of the night and a kind of creepiness that stems from a) the fact they were dead until very recently and b) the weird, disconnected way they act, there’s nothing scary about the returners.
TCB seems to be using the returned dead to simultaneously look at some of France’s social issues, the issue of letting go of the dead and to pose an eerie “what-if” scenario that’s like the flip side of Romero’s coin. It has a very Ray Bradbury-esque feel to it and for such a talky movie with a lack of action it’s well paced. The French really seem to understand the craft of making films — it looks good, it stays interesting and the acting is generally excellent. It kind of falls apart at the end, since there’s no real resolution or explanation offered. It just sort of ends. Despite that, it’s an intriguing film that’s worth a look, as long as you don’t expect anything like a traditional zombie story.
Before that, I watched the New Zealand short Zombie Movie, a funny, quirky little tale of three dudes trapped in a car by a mob of zombies. You can find it on Steam if you’d like to have a look for yourself (doesn’t appear to be embeddable, sorry!).