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Review: ‘The Returned’ gets to the essence of a zombie movie Special

Posted Mar 29, 2014 by Sarah Gopaul
‘The Returned’ takes place in a post-zombie world where the infected live normal lives thanks to a drug treatment that may be running out.
Emily Hampshire in a scene from  The Returned
Emily Hampshire in a scene from 'The Returned'
Entertainment One
How do you make a zombie movie without zombies? You cure them – sort of. It's long been believed that an outbreak of the undead is caused by a virus or infection, so why wouldn't scientists be able to develop a treatment for the affected. But what happens to these ticking time bombs ready to attack if they go too long without a dose? The Returned addresses these issues and others in a post-zombie world that found a solution and created further problems.
Kate (Emily Hampshire) works at a hospital where she cares for patients being treated with the retroviral drug for the zombie infection. They are known as "The Returned." As she advocates for more funding for research and manufacturing the serum, there are rumors of an impending shortage of the medicine that is causing fear amongst the "normal" population. As she and others try to stockpile personal supplies, anti-returned groups are taking matters into their own hands. Mobile killing squads emerge and protests for both sides takeover the streets. In the chaos, Kate only wishes to keep her partner Alex (Kris Holden-Ried) safe. But as the situation worsens, her ability to do so becomes increasingly limited.
This film draws on many historical influences and injustices to tell its story. The shunning of the infected is akin to early reactions to people diagnosed with HIV and AIDS. A lack of education manufactures fear of contraction and widespread disease. Parents hesitate to take home their returned child because his sickness frightens them. The official roundup of the infected to hold them in internment camps is reminiscent of numerous wars and the mistreatment of full citizens. The systematic murder of any known infected and extended police power is the most obvious comparison with one character even calling them the Gestapo.
The narrative is structured well to create a realistic environment and an intimidating world ruled by fear. While it doesn't spend a lot of time recounting the history that has brought the characters to this point, it does incorporate necessary information about the past via flashbacks and effortless dialogue. Not only is this an effective style of storytelling, it avoids the worn-out necessity to tell audiences everything upfront.
Though the zombie count in this film can be counted on a single hand, it successfully captures the atmosphere, and political and societal commentary that defines the genre more than any amount of blood or gore.
Director: Manuel Carballo
Starring: Kris Holden-Ried, Emily Hampshire and Shawn Doyle