Horror, sci-fi, comedy mix uneasily in locally shot film
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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 27/10/2020 (826 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
The forgettable title The Return has multiple meanings in this ambitious feature debut by local filmmaker BJ Verot.
It centres on a college student, Rodger (Richard Harmon), who returns to his troubled family abode after the mysterious death of his father (Erik Athavale).
Rodger is the last family member standing. His younger sister died years earlier under mysterious circumstances. Rodger’s mother (Gwendolyn Collins) went missing while working on a complex scientific project.
It later emerges that mom was distraught, not only because of the death of her daughter, but because of her husband’s two-timing with the psychiatrist (Marina Stephenson Kerr) who was being consulted about young Rodger’s traumatic encounters with a spectral “imaginary friend,” a blood-drenched female figure of mysterious origins.
Rodger may be looking at a return to a similar state of family dysfunction, given that he makes the trip in the company of his girlfriend Beth (Sara Thompson), as well as his old childhood pal Jordan (Echo Andersson), who clearly carries a torch for her supposedly platonic bud.
Verot co-scripted with Ken Janssens, so he doesn’t bear sole blame for the movie’s occasionally jarring tonal shifts, where light-comic relationship movie tropes are punctuated by moments of weird supernatural terror.
The movie’s inconsequential dialogue doesn’t quite sync up to the graver consequences the characters face, though Stephenson Kerr does manage to bridge the gap at times. Andersson brings quite a bit of charm to her role, which might have been better spent on something lighter and funnier.
On the plus side, as the film morphs more into a science-fiction tale, you can’t help admire Verot’s restraint in keeping the high concept grounded in something like reality, especially at the film’s conclusion, which some may consider too abrupt and enigmatic, but is in fact rather perfect.
The director resists trying to replicate the sturm und drang of a big-budget sci-fi epic. It’s a nice reminder that science fiction doesn’t have to blow blow your socks off.
Blowing your mind is sufficient.
In a way, Randall King was born into the entertainment beat.