The Return is an award-winning supernatural thriller from director BJ Verot. Richard Harmon stars as Rodger Emmerlich, a young physics student who is returning to his family home following the recent death of his father under ‘mysterious circumstances’. Joining him are girlfriend Beth (Sara Thompson) and best friend Jordan (Echo Andersson).
We’re already wary of the house the group are returning to, following a jittery, glitch-like flashback in the opening scene, where a young Rodger and his family are interrupted by the sudden and shocking appearance of a terrifying black apparition. The fact that Rodger’s sister Amelia died when he was younger, his mother Esme (Gwendolyn Collins) suddenly went missing and his father Oswald (Erik Athavale) has now died of a heart attack, does not seem to immediately set off any alarm bells for Rodger, but when he and his friends start to experience strange occurrences around the house, that soon changes.
For a while, it’s a classic case of us being able to see the ghostly figure behind the mystery, before it quickly disappears at the moment suspicion is aroused by a noise or an object that has moved. Eventually, it begins full-on messing with the three friends, who begin to investigate the possibility that the apparition is responsible for the missing/dead family members. Weirdly, the presence in the house alternates between black mist with white eyes and a human form that looks like all of its skin has been removed. Both are creepy and terrifying and deliver some pretty decent scares.
Both of Rodger’s parents were scientists and his mother had a whiteboard set up in the basement, covered in formulas as she worked through her obsession with time travel, something which is conveniently all still there and intact after all these years. Add in the discovery of video evidence of the apparition captured by his father, and some old files relating to psychiatry sessions for Rodger that he doesn’t remember having as a child, and we’ve got ourselves a nicely setup little horror mystery.
The relationship between Rodger, Beth and Jordan is nicely handled and performed, with a nice little jealousy subplot thrown in too. I did feel that all three were a little too laid back at times, considering all of the supernatural chaos and danger surrounding them, with Rodger looking like he could fall asleep at any moment, but that’s a minor quibble.
Things come to a head, with the spirit becoming more aggressive and Rodger using his science skills to develop a kind of Ghostbusters proton pack in order to prowl around the house and do some busting. There are some unresolved elements and, despite the satisfying ending, it’s also a little open-ended and leaves you wanting to know more about the fate of everyone involved.
THE RETURN premieres August 10 On-Demand/Digital from Uncork’d Entertainment.
See all photos >>
Web developer by day, with a movie and TV watchlist that continues to grow as much as my spare time reduces! My favourite movie is Inception and, despite what everyone says, I do not have a man-crush on Tom Cruise.