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31 Days of Halloween

[Nightstream] ‘The Returned’ review: Frightening look at motherhood and machismo

Choice and consequence.

Welcome to another installment of 31 Days of Halloween! This is our chance to set the mood for the spookiest and scariest month of the year as we focus our attention on horror and Halloween fun. For the month of October we’ll be sharing various pieces of underappreciated scary books, comics, movies, and television to help keep you terrified and entertained all the way up to Halloween.

Listen to the latest episode of our weekly movies podcast, Adventures in Movies!

When will they ever learn? There are certain things that a person should not do in horror movies. One of them is to never use mythical rituals to bring back someone from the dead. Showing at the Nightstream Film Festival, The Returned (Los Que Vuelven) is a desperate look at the lengths people will go to and the price they are willing to pay.

The Returned is an Argentine horror movie that follows a woman named Julia. The wife of a landowner, she has suffered through many miscarriages. After enduring another one, she decides to pray to a local deity to bring the stillborn child back to life. When the child comes back to life, something comes back with it.

The film does a great job of building tension. This is partially due to the three act structure. There is an expectation of what is coming. But director Laura Casabe also does a good job of not showing her hand. The audience does not know what to expect next, but are intrigued. The non-linear structure will inspire curiosity while answering questions.

[Nightstream] 'The Returned' review: Frightening look at motherhood and machismo

The Returned does not just focus on the evil that is plaguing its characters. There are also some very clear themes touched on. The most obvious is motherhood. Julia feels like less of a woman since she is unable to give birth.

The lack of understanding from her husband only complicates matters. (His attitude also plays into another idea The Returned discusses: the importance of machismo.) He also feels he is better than others due to his status as a landowner. His arrogance is on full display whether he is interacting with his wife or disparaging other people.

There is no shortage of gore in The Returned. The third chapter is especially bloody. What makes these moments so effective are the perpetrators are normal people. This makes the violence uglier and more sad.

Horror movies are able to visit a number of topics without seeming to be in over their heads. The Returned tackles a number of subjects without overwhelming the audience. Even better, it delivers some great scares while doing it.

Listen below for a chance to win a copy of the Back to the Future Ultimate Trilogy.

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