Tall, Dark, and Dead – 76 – They Came Back / Les Revenants
Title: They Came Back / Les Revenants
Director: Robin Campillo
Leads: Géraldine Pailhas, Jonathan Zaccaï
Favorite quote: “They have the right to resume their lives.”
Thoughts: I’m tempted, after watching several of them, to come right out and say, “I am not a fan of French zombie films.” However, I know the minute I say that I’ll encounter something like Let Them Eat Flesh, where a reanimated Marie Antoinette carts about her own gloriously-coiffed head and munches on the proletariat. A movie with sweeping, ambitious costuming, scintillating dialogue, and…wait a minute.
I AM NOT A FAN OF FRENCH ZOMBIE FILMS.
*sits and waits*
Anyway, while nowhere near the quality level of Oasis of the Living Dead or Zombie Lake, They Came Back is still somewhat bland and colorless. (Literally – it has an incredibly washed-out, limited color palette.)
I did like the opening shots of the exodus from the cemetery, and loved the suggestion that the dead, within their monolithic horde, are strangers to one another – parallel-existent creatures that do not interact. Other films have explored this point, but in They Came Back, for some reason, the point really hit home. Normally I’m struck by the cooperative behavior of zombies, but there was none of that to be found here.
I also really respected the living society that attempted to welcome them back and reintegrate them, even as it became clear that the movie’s message was that the living only wanted to interact with the dead on their terms – that, though they may move and speak again, the dead are still ineffably Other, their behavior open to living scrutiny, control, and use. To be alive is “normal,” to be dead is “deviant” – even though birth and death are the only truly common human experiences, and one will far outlast the other.