Stop what you are doing right now, turn on Netflix and get acquainted with Les Revenants (translated as The Returned). This is truly best supernatural drama that I have ever seen and I owe my watching this to the 1001 book. Whilst I had heard that this was meant to be brilliant I had never really gone in search of it. Probably because it would require subtitles, something ludicrous considering how much foreign cinema I have consumed.
Both the hub and myself loved this so much that we ended up watching Les Revenants in five instalments (4, 4, 2, 2 and 4 episode chunks). This is one of those shows that binge watching was meant for. Even the TV studio understood this by scheduling this show in two hour blocks.
So, how to talk about this without breaking out into spoiler territory… let’s give this a go:
In a world of TV and cinema full of vampires and zombies Les Revenants stands apart. In a way, yes, this is a show that could be lumped in with the zombie genre… but that misses the point entirely.
It’s just any other evening in an idyllic French alpine town and people who are long dead have become to return. As of the first episode the main revenants are: Camille who died when a school bus careened off a cliff (4 years dead), the middle-aged and matter of fact Mrs Costa (35 years dead), the soon-to-be married Simon (10 years dead), serial killer Serge (7 years dead) and the enigmatic boy Victor.
These people are not zombies, to them time has just skipped from minutes before their death to present day. By doing the show this way it is able to focus on the theme of loss. Many people in this town are in some form of mourning only to have those they have mourned return. Then you have the revenants who are having to deal with their own sort of loss – a loss of purpose and of the life they could have lead.
But why have they returned? This is one of many compelling mysteries that keep you binge watching until it’s well past midnight. The best mystery of all is Victor; namely who or what is he? The pacing of the mysteries is masterful. The show manages to find a way to space out the clues and reveals so that the viewer isn’t inundated or gets bored waiting for answers.
Of course at the centre of this is a cast full of amazing characters. If I had to single out only one it would have to be Julie (Céline Sallette). She finds herself embroiled in many of the biggest mysteries of the show as well as the only same-sex relationship in the series. Her arc of loss, loneliness and newly found guardianship of the mysterious boy Victor is beautifully done. As much as your heart goes out to most of the characters – she’s the one that struck me in particular.
The child actor playing Victor is also amazing. He is able to be a strange mixture of innocent and yet incredibly unsettling. He has quite a bit of a growth spurt between seasons one and two… but they deal with that well enough.
This is quite hard to write about without going into spoiler territory so it’s time to cut it short. Just watch it if you haven’t. You will not regret it.
Anyway, enough from me. If you want to hear more (including some spoilers and a rather odd comparison with Gilmore Girls) please listen to the Just Watch It podcast!