‘The Returned’ introduces an even creepier breed of zombies

10/31/2013 6:00 AM

10/30/2013 6:21 PM

I was a couple of episodes into the excellent French series “The Returned,” about a group of seemingly random people who return from the dead, before it hit me that I was watching a show about zombies.

The zombies who populate this eight-part series, which debuts Thursday night at 9 on the Sundance channel, are not stumbling, decaying, groaning monsters clawing at human flesh. These zombies look and behave (for the most part) just like the friends and family members they reunite with after years in their graves. At first, they do not even know they are dead, and when they figure it out, they are confused, frightened and sad.

In other words, it’s not exactly “The Walking Dead.” Sure, there is some graphic violence and plenty of disturbing sights, but the violence isn’t gratuitous in the “Bro! Did you see THAT!?” way I feel many people watch the super popular (and gory) AMC zombie series. “The Returned” is moody and mysterious and creepy -- and devastatingly sad.

But let’s forget about the z-word for a moment.

The mystery at the center of “The Returned” -- who are these “people,” and why did they suddenly return to this remote village in the French Alps -- is what gnaws at you as much as the creepy, knowing stare of young Victor (Swann Nambotin), the most haunting of all those who have been brought back.

The strength of the series is that it allows you, through a series of flashbacks, to get to know the “returned” as the people they once were -- who, incidentally, are also the people they still believe themselves to be.

“The Returned” is so smart and captivating, you won’t even notice the French subtitles! Oh, did I forget to mention it’s subtitled? Please, please, please. Do not let that keep you from diving into one of the most enthralling series to come along in a long time.

Happiness is a Warm TV logo

Happiness is a Warm TV

It's must read television! We have DVRs. We have cable. We have armchairs. That makes us highly qualified to talk about television. Join us as we explore what's good, what's bad, what's too bad to miss, and anything else TV has to offer. Contributors are Brooke Cain and Thad Ogburn.

Join the Discussion

News & Observer is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere on the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Terms of Service