A pinned and mounted butterfly comes alive. An old man looks surprised and alarmed to hear a knock at the door. And a bus full of children plunges over a cliff. But in the small Alpine village of this new French drama, all bets are off. The dead are returning. Not in a hysterical way – in the case of teenager Camille, it’s very matter of fact. She’s confused and tired but most of all, she’s hungry.
How will the bereaved families react? Mostly with confusion of their own. We’ve been presented with any number of supernatural dramas in recent years and there’s always a bigger inbuilt risk of bet-hedging and disappointment in shows trading in metaphysical or existensial impossibility (hello, ‘Lost’).
But ‘The Returned’ feels classy and focused at this point. Reactions seem entirely believable, if such a thing is at all tenable given the outlandish scenario. There’s even a hint of ‘Twin Peaks’ in the sense of isolation, setting as character and general air of spooky disconnection. Plus it looks beautiful and Mogwai’s soundrack suits the material down to the ground. Intriguing.