FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE...beware yon spoilers!

Jan 9, 2012

More like "The Return the DVD to the Shelf", Amirite?

Okay, maybe that's not fair. Actually, a more fitting title for The Return (2006) would be Sarah Michelle Gellar Looking at Things.









Gellar stars as Joanna, a young woman who...looks at things....as she attempts to figure out what the heck is going, which is weird because that's exactly what the audience does at the same time! Joanna is plagued by nightmares and visions and perhaps a dude in cruddy overalls who insists he just wants to talk to her but come on- we all know that he really wants to kill her.

And that's about it, for 90 minutes. The pieces sloooowly (those extra "o"s indicate emphasis with a capital HOLY CRAP THIS MOVIE IS QUIET AND SLOW BUT NOT IN A WAY THAT'S, LIKE, ATMOSPHERIC MORE JUST LIKE YOU WILL NOD OFF) come together as Joanna confronts her past and looks at more and more things. If you've ever said to yourself or someone else "You know, I really like the long-haired ghost girl Asian horror movies, like Ringu and stuff? But I don't like the scary parts, I only really like the mystery!", then you will be touching yourself or someone else over The Return- it plays like the obligatory mystery portion of an Asian ghost-filled horror flick. The film arrived during that wave of Asia Remake-a-Mania and because Gellar also starred in the wildly successful The Grudge, posters and ads were all "Oh yeah, you love this Asian shit and look! Sarah Michelle Gellar is here and she was in The Grudge and that was scary, so you know The Return is going to be scary because why would we lie?", but lie they did! The Return is far more thriller than horror; Joanna needs to solve the mystery not to bust ghosts or what have you, but so she can make an attempt at having a well-adjusted life.

As Joanna, Gellar is...well, it's hard to say. It's difficult to bring much energy to a lethargic film and a role that requires lots of...you know, looking. To be honest, it's difficult for me to judge Sarah Michelle Gellar objectively because of Buffy. It's probably ridiculous, but she's just one of those people- like Kristen Bell (Veronica fucking Mars) or everyone on Battlestar Galactica- who will always get a pass from me. She could be the worst actress to have ever drawn a breath, and I will just not see it. But while watching The Return, I admit, I felt a tug of "I guess she needed to pay the mortgage..." in my brain. I felt it tug harder when Sam Shepard showed up, though, so there you go.

I suppose it's not a terrible film. It sure looks nice, but the pacing absolutely kills it. When the pieces finally come together, you'll perhaps perk up a bit, realizing you've slumped far, far down into the sofa over the last 85 minutes. You'll have a drink of water, say "Oh, okay. Yeah, that's what I figured was going on", turn it off, and shuffle off to bed for the night. Perhaps it's best to think of The Return as a sleep aid. It's like Lunesta for the eyes!

I'm not sure if that makes any sense, actually, but it'd still be a more appropriate marketing campaign for this movie.

12 comments:

Bleed For Me. said...

Haha... that series of pictures of Gellar reminds me of what I thought of "Inland Empire," aka, "Laura Dern Looks Frightened and/or Confused."

Rob said...

Yeah, it's kind of dull, but I did like it, mostly because of Gellar; she can be really great at times (she was best thing about Southland Tales and Air That I Breathe). And of course: BUFFY!And you're definitely right, the ads for this were really annoying, giving the mistaken impression it would be another Grudge, it was more of a mood piece than anything else.

Erich Kuersten said...

When you think about, those 'actress looking around, walking down hallways, reacting to cutaway shots, standing and thinking, looking in the mirror, standing in a field scenes probably constitute 80% of most horror movies. They're super easy to shoot and make and are super cheap (actress + camera, that's it). I noticed this first in Corman's Poe cycle - people walking up and down hallways and through dungeons, for hours on end.

PS - You rule. Happy 2012

Girl on Gore said...

I am actually re-watching all of Buffy right now. Oh nostalgic bliss. Maybe I do wanna watch Sarah Michelle Gellar look at things. You're right, if they marketed it this way I would have been sold! Thanks for sharing!

Ulrich said...

I have it at home, and I haven't seen it yet but I might or might not now. Thank you for this.

spazmo said...

I've been thinking about rewatching all my Buffys, too, since having a dream the other night in which a new season of BtVS was starting, and in the first episode, she agrees to get shot to death so she can fight evil in the spirit world.

Unfortunately, who should start stalking Sunnydale, but Jason freaking Voorhees, and Buffy has to find a way back into her body before he chops up the whole town...

Dave Enkosky said...

Not to get off topic but I feel like I'm one of the last people not to see an episode of Buffy. I've always been a horror fan and friends have been telling me to get on that for a long time, but...I don't know, I haven't been drawn to it. I'm sure I'll get to it eventually, though.

Oh but yeah, this movie looks awful.

Arbogast said...

She did a remake of a Korean film, Possession (2009), that was similarly stinky. My problem with Gellar - and I'm another who never saw even ten minutes of Buffy, so I'm unfamiliar with her from her prime - is that as she approaches middle age she is not even a remotely interesting actress and she most often looks prickly and irritated rather than haunted or intrigued. Plus, she wears the ugliest knit cap in Christendom at the very end - no, do not rent Possession just so you can see how f'ugly that hat is, I implore you!

My word verification was "clovan." Sounds like an after-shave that Dracula's valet would use.

CashBailey said...

Gellar gives very good 'pensive', you gotta give her that.

And this has Adam Scott in it, and I could never totally hate anything Adam Scott is in.

Oddly enough, the director of this movie also directed SENNA, a brilliant documentary from last year.

Stacie Ponder said...

Now see, I have a big aversion to Adam Scott because the only thing I'd seen him in prior to The Return was an episode of Veronica Mars. He was slimy in both and let me tell you, he will have to work very hard at winning my love!

CashBailey said...

Adam Scott was also in HELLRAISER: BLOODLINE.

Watch PARTY DOWN, a brilliant but short-lived comedy series from the creator of VERONICA MARS and you will become a fan of Scott. Not mention the mighty PARKS AND REC.

The Littlest Winslow said...

Huge SMG/Buffy fan...but I agree, The Return fell flat. By film's end you're like "wait, what happened now?!" I own it because I'm a loyal SMG fan. However, Possession isn't nearly as bad as someone said above. It's definitely better than The Return! lol

And Adam Scott needs to be celebrated. See the series Party Down, asap. Or if you want to stick to horror, you can watch Piranha 3D, but I don't recommend that whatsoever.

PS - It's Friday the 13th! I posted a countdown/ode to Jason on my blog, if anyone has a free sec to check it out. Good talk!