Les revenants [They Came Back] (2004)

Les revenants
Director: Robin Campillo
Writer: Robin Campillo, Brigitte Tijou
Cast: Géraldine Pailhas, Jonathan Zaccaï, Frédéric Pierrot, Victor Garrivier, Catherine Samie, Djemel Barek, Marie Matheron, Saady Delas
Seen on: 07.04.2015

One day the dead start returning to a small town, without any apparent cause. A constant stream of previously deceased people makes their way through town from the cemetery, walking back to their homes and loved ones. This puts the town’s inhabitants in an awkward position between joy and bewilderment, dragging up old sadnesses without really resolving them. As society tries to integrate the formerly dead again, things become weirder and weirder.

Les revenants is quite unusual for a film where the dead come back to life – so much so that I hesitate to call it a zombie film, even if there are some parallels. But the very particular feel of it didn’t quite work for me.


Les revenants was later made into a TV show (that in turn just got its US-American remake). I actually finished watching the (French) show not too long ago and I absolutely loved it (looking forward to season 2), so I expected much of the film. Unfortunately it appears that what I loved most about the TV show is absent in the film, making it rather disappointing, despite many qualities.

I still think it’s an amazingly creepy idea and I loved the mix of personal and sociological examination of what it would mean if the dead would suddenly return (a cue that In the Flesh seems to have taken from it). I also love the general atmosphere of the film, which is rather different from the show and reminded me a lot of The Leftovers (another excellent TV series).

lesrevenants1But with very few exceptions I couldn’t bring myself to care about any of the characters. The slowness of the film became unbearably boring. The lack of explanation and answers was unsatisfying instead of intriguing. There are interested questions buried in the film, but it always felt like the movie neatly sidestepped those questions whenever they threatened to become concrete.

Maybe Campillo just needed the extra years to really get a handle on the ideas, which is why the show works so much better. But the movie just felt a little flat and too subdued for its own good.

lesrevenants2Summarizing: Rather watch the show.

2 thoughts on “Les revenants [They Came Back] (2004)

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