The Returned has well… returned. The newest addition to my series binge is the Netflix original remake of the French series Les Revenants that graced our screens back in 2012. It was such a gripping, creepy and thrilling programme and I was completely hooked.
“Les Revenants” meaning ‘they came back’ is based around a 2004 film with the same name. With the Americans sterotypically being known to dislike anything with subtitles, it’s not surprising that Netflix have jumped on the bandwagon with this show. Les Revenants won the 2013 International Emmy for the best drama series.
I didn’t have very high expectations for this series – I’ve found American remakes cheesy and cringe-worthy in the past, The Inbetweeners and Skins being classic examples. However, this one is really well done. It does not leave much to the imagination and things are slightly less sinister than in the French but it is still a genuinely good programme and with a 4.5/5 Neflix rating people must agree.
It is based in a quaint, mountainous town that has suffered a fair few tragedies. It’s an eerie drama that features a lot of intertwining and overlapping stories about people who come back from the dead.
Four years previously, 32 school children were killed in a crash during a school trip. One day, people start to mysteriously return. Camille (India Ennenga), one of the victims, comes home four years later thinking that it is the same day as the school trip. Her family act as though it is normal, despite her twin sister, now being four years older than her. Simon (Mat Vairo) returns to find his fiancée married to someone else– seemingly unaware that he had died before he made it to his own wedding. However, the creepiest and most sinister character is a young boy Victor (Dylan Kingwall) who stalks a woman, following her and appearing everywhere. He also refuses to talk to her and instead stares blankly at her. Fortunately, in the Netflix remake he is considerably less scary but his ominous smirk is still troubling. It becomes apparent that Victor may have a lot more to do with the returning of the dead than it seems. As things get stranger and stranger, mysterious deaths occur as well as injuries spontaneously occurring. It seems that the returned are here for a reason…but what is it?
Although it would be classed as a sci-fi, it is filmed in a convincing way that sometimes makes you forget you’re essentially watching a programme about zombies coming back from the dead. The Netflix series is very consistent with the French – the sets and surroundings are really similar. I expected the remake to have modified the story a lot more but they stay relatively true to the original. The French version is scarier and slightly more enticing, whilst the American counterpart lacks some of the mystery that made Les Revenants so eerily good. The Netflix series feeds you more of the storyline but the French left episodes on more of a cliff hanger, which I think made it so addictive.
That being said, I did find Les Revenants a confusing at times, as it has quite a complex storyline, which is made more difficult due to the subtitles. For a first time viewer, the Netflix series is a good watch and the soundtrack is also excellent. The story itself is gripping and really different to anything I’ve ever watched. It’s great that the remake has been made because more people are able to watch the programme – giving the original the recognition that it deserves.
The original series definitely set the bar high so it’s not surprising that The Returned falls a bit flat in comparison. Nevertheless, series two of Les Revenants has just started on More4 so the Netflix original series is a perfect way to catch up!