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Review : The Return – BJ Verot spooker well worth a look

There are enough elements involved that made it a worthwhile one-time viewing

It is a special kind of feeling going back to your roots, right? Especially after a long time, there is a level of nostalgia that builds up over time. When you go back and have that rush of feelings from your youth, it can be a pleasing experience. Or…sometimes it can be challenging and disheartening. Not everyone has fond memories of their childhood and their hometown. This new horror film, The Return, captures this experience deeply as this is the heart of the film. Our young protagonist, Rodger, must come face to face with the horrors of his past. 

But what could be so horrifying that Rodger returns home after a long time? First, Rodger’s father has passed away…under strange circumstances. His father has mysterious encrypted folders on his computer (because Rodger’s BFF is of course a talented hacker) with some seriously terrifying things on there. The Return poses plenty of questions for the audience to chew on throughout the film. What happened to Rodger’s father? Why has he not returned home? What happened to his mother years ago? What research was she doing in these flashbacks scattered throughout the film? Like I said…plenty to think about. That doesn’t even cover the relationship dynamics thrown in behind Rodger, his significant other, and his best friend (who totally has feelings for him).

How can writer-director BJ Verot possibly balance all of this over the course of 90 minutes? Not everything sticks its landing. Sara Thompson’s Beth feels like she is there so that we can have some creepy scares during sex scenes. Echo Andersson’s Jordan is much more interesting and her dynamic with Rodger is considerably more intriguing. Their experience in the film gives the audience just enough human connection to the film. Verot does a fine job of setting up scares (which is half the battle) but the effects for the primary entity causing issues is subpar. The black smoke is so cheesy that it was hard for me to take the scare seriously anymore once the being revealed itself. Otherwise, this film is decently creepy and well shot despite the effects (which got more saturated as the film moved on).

But how does Verot’s story play out? The reason for this all going on is intriguing. It expands the scope of the narrative in a unique and surprising way. The issue is how it is presented comes off blunt and clunky. The cliched exposition dump flies in during the third act to tell the audience what this story is about. The resolution of the film is also bigger and bolder than the rest of the film. The ambition of where things go is admirable even if it feels a little bloated.

Would I return to this new horror flick? Probably not. There are too many shortcomings with The Return for me to want to return and revisit this small scale and ambitious sci-fi/horror flick. But there are enough elements involved that made it a worthwhile one-time viewing. Are you a fan of horror/sci-fi? Then this one will probably be a fun time for you. Give The Return a watch.

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