Animated corpses? Flesh eating scenes? Bela Lugosi look alikes? Dawn/Shaun of the Dead over the topness? None of these so far. The zombies in The Returned look and behave (well, almost) like normal folk. Welcome to the world of the living dead á la Francaise.
This is a stylish, slow burn, psychological drama with a noirish feel. There are nods to the Midwich cuckoos and Turn of the Screw. Innocent-faced children stare in total silence; figures appear from nowhere and stand like statues in the road as a bus hurls round the bend.
With seven more episodes to follow we might yet see some standard zombie badass action. This gripping opener suggests it will be the living who will haunt us. This is a tale of their struggle to come to terms with living with their ‘resurrected’ loved ones, who seem unaware that they are in fact dead people.
Lauren Baker, 21, Reading, says…
I think the creators of Les Revenants must have got into my brain and picked out two of the best things I love about television: subtitles and the supernatural. So naturally when I heard that Les Revenants was coming to Channel 4 I put it right to the top of my to-watch list, and rightly so.Being a zombie drama it could have easily swayed into the stale territory of man-eating monsters but these zombies appear just as we do, save the minor detail that they’re dead, of course. This is where the beautiful subtleties of this show come in. For a supernatural drama it is incredibly human and touching, reminiscent of BBC Three drama In The Flesh. Expecting nothing less from the French, the show also has beautiful cinematographic style and the creepy setting of the mountains just adds to the mystical suspense to make for gripping must-see TV.
Rosemarie Teves, 40, London, says…
Like many viewers, I had seen the ads and trailers for the new drama on Channel 4, The Returned. I was curious and eagerly anticipated watching this, making a mental note of the time it was scheduled for, so as I would not miss a single second.
I must admit I had no idea of what it was about, only that dead people were coming back to life and it was French! Within the first 5 minutes I was hooked and by the first ad break, I was a fan.
The drama drew out of me a mixture of thoughts and emotions. I was glued to each story line. I’m not sure if the makers were intending to scare us ( I wasn’t in the least bit scared ) but certainly to question our beliefs in the afterlife and religion.
It’s a fascinating drama. I for one cannot wait until next Sunday.
Stylish, thought provoking, and well shot new drama from France on Channel 4 to fill our Sunday night drama slot. How would YOU react to someone you have loved coming back from the grave after 4 years? As Philip says “ It’s only ever happened once before?”
What further complicates matters is that the now undead have no comprehension of their fatal accident, blithely re-entering and resuming their lives to the consternation of friends and families whose diverse reactions are brilliantly and sensitively portrayed.
The first episode of this thrilling supernatural drama running along the lines of Twin Peaks and Dexter with its macabre credibility introduces a superb variety of characters and potential plot twists. Clearly the lives of those in the little Alpine village are about to be rocked but one also senses there are hidden secrets to be exposed as a result of the re-emergences. Totally gripping.
Jack Sharp, 24, London, says…
Much has been written about the The Returned, most of it positive and almost all of it concerning the programme’s subtitles, as if having to read words off of a screen immediately makes for television that could put the films of Ingmar Bergman to shame. But The Returned is not The Seventh Seal, nor is it—as many publications have suggested—“the French Twin Peaks”. It’s more like a significantly slower paced instalment of Lost, full of suspense and promise, but with the likelihood of it all ending in anti-climax.
Hopefully I’ll be proven wrong, given how brilliantly creepy the premise is: it tells the chilling story of a group of men, women and children who return to a small Alpine town years after their deaths. Filmed in a style that is stark and visually appealing, episode one is a compelling introduction, but I fear the conclusion will fall short of the suspense.
A big thank you to everyone who sent in a review – we really enjoyed reading them! If you’ve got a taste for sharing your opinion, or these clever Radio Times readers have inspired you to put pen to paper (or, more accurately, fingertips to keyboard) keep your eyes peeled for the next Radio Times Reader Review….
Sign up to the Radio Times newsletter for the latest TV and entertainment news