Sunday, October 23, 2011

Horrorthon 3: Day Twenty: They Came Back (Robin Campillo, 2004) -- C-

A thoroughly inert attempt at aristocratic horror, They Came Back attempts to situate itself as worthy of inclusion within the horror genre through its use of "zombies," though these folks look like they were buried yesterday. Essentially, a small French town becomes perplexed when its buried patrons arise from their graves and return, not to feed on the living, but to assimilate back into society. That this is "a zombie flick like no other" should not suggest quality, since director Robin Campillo cannot shake his wholly metaphoric pretensions, not revising genre so much as belittling it. Were he more keyed into the potential satirical dimensions of his narrative (this only sporadically manifests), the literal title could simultaneously dismantle and pay reverence, both to zombie films and social reform. Not interested in cracking much of a smile, Campillo is potentially at his strongest when focusing on smaller relationships, between the dead-come-to-life and their loved ones - but even here, there's a consistent sense of muddied intent and execution, disjointed not to imbue a degree of ambivalence to the proceedings, but seemingly because of an uncertainty or (more likely) unfamiliarity, coupled with an arrogant disdain towards genre filmmaking, in general.

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