It’s incredibly rare to find shows that aren’t in the English language to watch on British TV, especially on the mainstream channels. However, subtitled programmes are becoming increasingly popular with the British public, in particular European crime dramas such as The Killing and Spiral. In June 2013, for the first time in more than twenty years, Channel 4 broadcasted its first ‘fully subtitled drama’ in a primetime slot. Les Revenants, or The Returned to English speaking audiences, is a French supernatural drama that imagines what would happen if the dead were to come back to life. Now into its second series, The Returned has glued audiences to their seats and has managed to capture the imaginations of all nationalities.
In effect, The Returned is a TV drama about zombies. However, it is about as far away from The Walking Dead as you can get. Instead of mindless corpses stumbling around aimlessly, the zombies in The Returned look exactly like us, are capable of thinking and feeling, and don’t realise that they are dead. In the very first episode, four years after being killed in a bus accident, a fifteen year old girl called Camille returns home as though nothing has happened. Naturally, her parents and twin sister are horrified to see her.
One of the main strengths of The Returned is its ability to create relatable characters who act like normal people, despite being placed in an extraordinary situation. The cinematography is also incredible, which means that The Returned has a consistently eerie atmosphere. Consequently, it’s impossible to look away from the screen. The atmosphere is also enhanced by the music (composed by Scottish rock band Mogwai), which builds up the tension to an almost unbearable extent. I would even say that the music is one of my favourite things about The Returned, and the show definitely wouldn’t have had the same impact on me without it.
Therefore, if you prefer your zombie shows to have plenty of gore and violence, The Returned is probably not the show for you. However, if you’re willing to engage with a thoughtful and chilling supernatural drama, then I would highly recommend it, and I am greatly looking forward to watching the second series.