I liked this film, but potential genre viewers beware, this is a subtitled French film, but since I enjoy both horror films and art house movies I had little problem with its leisurely pacing. Some reviewers have commented on a lack of horror, this is true, but there are plenty of unsettling scenes and the film has a genuine sense of unease hanging over it. It takes place in a high-rise suburb of the Ile-de-France, a region of Paris. There is something of a J.G. Ballard-like feel of dislocation to the urban surroundings that matches the inability of the returned dead to fit in with the lives of their previously grieving loved ones. Similarly, as in the short story The Monkey's Paw, it is perhaps better not to have your loved ones return from the dead because they may not be quite as you'd like them to be.
It's a fascinating premise and goes to show how the zombie genre can be tweaked in to interesting new shapes. However, writer and first time director Robin Compillo does not explore the full socio-economic possibilities of the situation, let alone the potential for horror. He instead considers some of the emotional implications involved in regard to loss and wish fulfilment in relation to the returned loved ones. It might be hoped that They Came Back could kick start a new direction in the zombie genre, as a global phenomenon there are thousands of potential scenarios. However, it is unlikely this modest and thoughtful little chiller (imagine M.Night Shyamalan when he was modest and thoughtful) will have the same impact as Night of the Living Dead.
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