The Night They Returned (SV Bell, 2004)
[note: review originally published 1Dec2008]
Run-of-the-mill not-really-a-zombie flick (it actually owes more to The Texas Chain Saw Massacre than it does zombie movies) that is separated from the pack by its surprisingly high production values for an indie.
The story centers on three sisters. Brenda (Melantha Blackthorne, recently of Death Race) and Tawny (Music and Lyrics‘ Suzi Lorraine) are running a scam involving picking up hitchhikers, bringing them back to the family cabin, and slaughtering them for money and food. (Yes, that means what you think it does.) While they’re doing this, their third sister, Jessica (Sinners and Saints‘ Elizabeth Faure), usually spends her time tied up in her bedroom so she doesn’t get in the way. The three girls live with their father, which is pretty usual, except that he’s been dead a while, and once they’re done with their victims, they dispose of the evidence in a local creek. Unfortunately, that same local creek is also being used by an less-than-ethical factory worker who’s dumping toxic waste there. I’m sure you know where this is going.
While two of the three leads in this movie have, in fact, made it to big blockbuster-style movies, they’re still playing bit parts. The reason for this is that they’re not the world’s best actors. In fact, “mediocre” is probably doing them more justice than they deserve. That said, they’re all quite easy on the eyes, and they do well enough to at least make this watchable. I think Bell upped the production values here by keeping to just a few sets (the inside of the house and the riverbank comprise the bulk of the movie), and splurging on those. Excellent choice, as the movie looks as good as any mid-list Hollywood feature from the past ten years. Script could have used a little work, especially in the pacing department, but isn’t all that bad considering some of the stuff I’ve seen recently (and I’m not just talking about indie flicks). Ultimately empty calories, but you could certainly do worse in picking a flick to watch during your Saturday night wine tasting (assuming you’re a Boone’s Farm connoisseur). **
No trailer. But Canuck death metal band Kataklysm wrote a song of that name, so here you go!