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November 10 2006

(SPOILER) The Return opens today and here are some reviews. "Made on a modest budget, compact, and chilling without being repulsive, "The Return" is a throwback, but a nice one--a solid B movie in every respect, down to the grade assigned it here."

I would concur. This movie is no where near as good as The Warrior, but I think it is very good and really avoids many of the pratfalls that modern horror movies (such as the The Grudge) fall into, its a movie that allows atmosphere and characters to drive the thriller and mystery aspects of the film. Sarah and Sam Shepard are standouts in this movie, with Sam Shepard being a great plus to the film, but the entire film really centers on Sarah's character of Joanna Mills, and for the first time since Buffy, I would say SMG does a wonderful job.

Here is another review, and I must think Leigh over smgfan for the links.

Orlando Sentinal

I've seen a couple of other reviews, they've been pretty damming. I guess people will either love or hate it.
LOL, yeah I just read Dread Centrals review. Yeesh, he was not at all happy with the film. Apparently its another film, as you said Simon, that people will either love or hate.
I have to say that this totally went under my radar. I didn't even know it was out this weekend. You really have to poke studios sometimes to get them to provide interviews with the cast and crew.
There's been a fair amount of television advertising here, but I somehow managed to forget it was coming out today anyway.
I just got back from this movie and I thought it was amazing. The best movie I've seen this year and I am not being just some big fan-boy..... well, maybe I am, BUT the point is that I thought this movie was great. The story, acting, shots, locations; everything about it was great.
I cannot deny being the most immense Sarah Michelle Gellar fanboy (middle aged division) but . . .

It was everything I hoped it would be.

It is a very unconventionally told supernatural thriller. The studio appears to be treating it as a normal horror movie, opening it without first screening it for reviewers, perhaps in the hope that teenagers would flock in under the (mis)impression that it is this week's multiple dismemberment flick. If so, they'll be disappointed. It's actually good.

The movie is entirely character driven and focuses almost exclusively on Sarah Michelle's character, an artistic choice that of course has me rolling in kittens. In keeping with the director's style of telling the story visually, there's very little dialogue, so Sarah Michelle's acting is mostly through her face and her body. She proves she does not need sparking dialogue to sparkle. I personally found her performance as moving as her performances in the more 'go to the dark place' eps of Buffy. It is at once subtle and riveting. She does what only the great actors and 'tresses can do -- she takes you inside her head and lets you know exactly what the character is thinking.

In The Warrior, Asif Kapadia took a stock genre character, stripped his story down to its essentials, and produced an intimate character study that was paradoxically a gripping yarn. Here he does the same with the ghost story. And yes I was scared, because the director and the actress make you believe.

If I had to compare it to any other movie, it would be Donnie Darko, in that the deal is that

The only thing I didn't like about the movie was the soundtrack, which is too loud and blatant for a quiet, subtle movie.
It's very interesting to me. Not just SMG starring in it, but the setting of a small, sinister, violent, weird Texas town. It makes me a little homesick. I'll probably see it tomorrow.
I'm glad to read it's more old fashionedly suspense-oriented than bloody. It will be interesting to see the differences between her performance in this and The Air I Breathe where her character is an emotion/concept.
The film is "terrible" in that it's not at all a horror film and is marketed incorrectly. If people are expecting horror then they're going to be disappointed. However if people are going to see this with an open mind then they might be impressed. My only fear is that it will attract the wrong crowd. My friend and I saw it tonight and we were both pleasantly surprised. I knew going in that it wasn't going to be as I expected but some reason I thought it was also going to be mediocre at best. I'm glad that I was wrong.

The love story and the theme of reincarnation were so beautifully portrayed and explored. The cinematography was amazing...if people are denying it's a good flick, one thing they can't deny is that it's a beautiful one.

It's funny to me how films such as 21 Grams, same type of acting, non-linear, same type of filtering, good camera work and revelations about life are so touted in the media and then comes a film like The Return, that explores interesting themes in the same fashion...and it gets no attention. It's just mind boggling how hot and cold the industry is simply because this particular film has less well-known actors etc.
then comes a film like The Return, that explores interesting themes in the same fashion...and it gets no attention.

From what I've heard it wasn't screened for critics, so I don't really blame them for mostly ignoring it.
From the early messing around with the release date and then the marketing push of this movie I'm fairly convinced that Rogue got a picture that they didn't quite know how to deal with
I saw this film last night and I absolutely loved it! It's easy to see why Sarah chose this particular project. If you're looking for 'the Grudge 3' or 'Texas Chainsaw Massacre 15' then you're probably not going to enjoy this film, but if you're looking for a well-crafted mystery/thriller then you're in for a real treat. Two thumbs up!
It's getting thrashed everywhere. People say it fails as both a horror film and as a story. It also bombed, taking in only $1.9 million yesterday.
I wouldn't say it's getting thrashed everywhere. People open to the film or not expecting an outright horror film (which is far less people than would have been the case if Focus hadn't gone for such a short-sighted advertising campaign) seem to be really enjoying the film. People on fansites may be biased, but they're still usually pretty open if they didn't particularly like a film.

As for it bombing, it depends on your definition of "bomb". This film was never expected to take huge amounts. It was a pretty cheap film, and even with a $5 million weekend will probably go on to make a little bit of money when all is said and done (including international and DVD sales). In terms of films from Focus, this is a perfectly decent opening.

There are a few good reviews out there, and most importantly from my point of view anyway, fans seem to be enjoying it.

[ edited by Impossible on 2006-11-11 21:07 ]
The Dark Shape - It failed as a horror because it isn't one. If I could throw pies at the marketing team, I would.

Helcat - I know it wasn't screened for the critics. I meant at the moment, it's really not getting the proper attention. It was marketed incorrectly and many people went expecting something completely different. There are even critics who specifically review horror films who went in expecting a horror film and got this instead. That's what happened to the guy at Dread Central.

I also don't understand the claims that TR is difficult to follow. There is something seriously wrong with our generation if this is considered difficult. Too much sensory overload...not enough reading and imagination.

Here's hoping the filmmakers of the future don't suck.

[ edited by Kyotoyoshi on 2006-11-11 21:14 ]
Boxofficeguru was probably the most optimistic predicting around $8 million ,Coming predicted it to open with 4.7 million.

How it's a bomb when it will probably come in at about $5m , in other words close to predictions I don't get
How it's a bomb when it will probably come in at about $5m , in other words close to predictions I don't get

The predictions take into account how it's expected to do, that doesn't mean it's what the studio hoped it'd be when they made it. Assuming it was cheaply made it may well be well on it's way to making a tidy profit but just because a film makes what is predicted at the time of release doesn't make it a success, it just means that by the time it opens there was a good sense that it wasn't going to set the box office alight.
Here are some quotes from other reviews:

And its star attraction, Sarah Michelle Gellar (2004's "The Grudge"), certainly knows her way around the thriller genre....Sarah Michelle Gellar's committed and persuasive performance as Joanna is the glue that holds much of the film together. This is a fairly juicy roleóGellar is front and center at all times, and creates a character worth caring aboutóbut something tells me that a lot of the nuances of both her and the story were chopped out by studio tinkering.

The Movie Boy

Iíve also got some respect for the nice, understated performance by Sarah Michelle Gellar, who probably wonít get credit for being good since the picture doesnít deliver on the scare level.

The Aisle Seat

If the central performances were richer and more subtle, the last half hour...could have been almost unbearably suspenseful


The New York Daily News was particularly brutal:

Not long ago, Sarah Michelle Gellar was a take-no-prisoners icon, as TV's demon-destroying Buffy. Just a few years later, she's appearing in thrillers so underwhelming, they aren't even screened for critics in advance. And while she had little more than a glorified cameo in last month's "The Grudge 2," the failure of "The Return" will rest entirely on her waifish shoulders...Not even Gellar can work up any interest in Joanna's fate. Perhaps she, like us, is wondering how an erstwhile vampire slayer could end up watching the blood slowly drain out of her career.

I think the big thing about this movie is what Kyotoyoshi said, that it was marketed as a horror film. Many critics seem to dislike the silence of the movie, they claim its boring, but others say it was a great film because of those understated performances. I wonder how much of an impact not screening it for critics had, and I wonder how much of both Sarah's acting style and Asif's directorial style, rub critics the wrong way. Who knows...
The Dark Shape - It failed as a horror because it isn't one. If I could throw pies at the marketing team, I would.

Not at all. People actually have to see it first to know it's not a horror, and judging by the fact it only took sub 2 million they didn't actually go and see it. So, basically, word of mouth did not break this film - not screening it to critics, not generating buzz (I had no idea this film was opening) etc is to blame.
So, basically, word of mouth did not break this film - not screening it to critics, not generating buzz (I had no idea this film was opening) etc is to blame.

Which is because the marketing department pitched it as horror and the done thing with horror movies nowadays is not to screen to critics since most critics seem to hate them with a passion regardless of how good they actually are.
But the horror fans seem to have gotten word that it wasn't a good horror movie as they certainly didn't show up in the usual numbers for a horror release.
Hooray for the horror fans then but as gossi points out if you don't get buzz etc from screening it to critics etc you automatically lose part of your potetial general audience
I think marketing it as a horror movie wouldn't have helped at this particular time of year so I do think it had an impact. Last month saw the usual selection of horror movies for October. By November, people are ready to move on to something a bit different. Especially when one of the horror films from last month was the not so great Grudge 2 which they seemed to make an effort to make the trailer of this film have it resemble... and which people wanting to see Sarah probably felt even more let down by since she was hardly in it.

If they were going to market it as a horror film, I think this time last month would have been better. They probably wanted to wait for the second Grudge in the hope of utilising some of the promotion from that... but yeah... that wouldn't have been a good idea given the reception it was given.

A large percentage of the people who would have very possibly gone to see this film and very probably have enjoyed it... wouldn't have given it a second thought due to the way the trailer presented it. And those horror fans who were fooled into going to see it and hadn't had their fill of horrors last month would have felt completely tricked. So not good all around.

Again I'm liking that fans seem to really be enjoying it though. That's really great.

[ edited by Impossible on 2006-11-12 04:51 ]
Saw it today. It pretty much stunk. And yes, I had envisioned a different kind of movie, from the trailers. A Grudge-esque type movie, with creepy, scary parts. This barely deserves the name horror.
The orchestral 'bangs', which I always hate, were relied on too heavily. The story just drug out far too slowly. There were characters that could have been excised completely. It was poorly edited and poorly directed. I'd say poorly written, but I'm giving the benefit of the doubt that some things were left on the cutting room floor. Several "don't think, just go with it" moments. Sarah did fine, but I'd say this is the worst movie that I've seen her in. Or at least the worst one that wasn't marketed to kids. And the 'hand in the eye' promo did that have to do with the movie?? (Also, there were some things in the trailers that weren't in the movie that gave it a distinctive horror feel.)

Really, Sarah deserves better than this. I'd give it a D. Maybe normally an F, but I saw Pulse this year, so....
I also went and saw this movie today and would give it a B+, it isn't the best movie I've ever seen but it isn't bad either. Sarah was front and center thru the entire movie and looked radiantly beautiful. In all honesty, she is the only reason I went in the first place. If it had been a movie about a woman counting fruit at a market, I would have still been there.

There were many moments that managed to both scare and shock me and Sarah's performance was great as usual. The story? I kinda liked it. It blew The Grudge away in creepyness. Too bad the marketing was a bust. If The Grudge could pull in 100 Mil, then this film could easily bring 200 MIL.
I'd call this one a psychological thriller.
$200 million? Uh, no. The most successful horror films in the last ten years, The Blair Witch Project and The Ring, hit the ceiling at $140 million and $129 million, respectively.
And the best Rogue has ever done was $51 ,$25M of that USA , most of them are more modest.

The hand in the eye promo stuff related I believe to some scenes that were left on the cuttting room floor
Rogues Pictures have been criticised for promoting 'The Return' as a horror film when it isn't. Some of the reviews, not all but probably the majority, have been very negative, a few of them arguing that the film is not a horror film and is therefore not any good. These particular reviews are very subjective and, it might be argued, are, to a very real extent, little more than opinions by fans of a particular genre rather than proper critical review. However, I can't think of a single instance when Rogue have referred to the film as "horror". They describe it as a "supernatural thriller". I live in Europe and have not yet seen the film, but from what I know about it I would say this was an accurate description if we must label everything.

The trailers certainly seem to suggest a similar feel to 'The Grudge' (giving the film a "horror" feel) and it gives the impression that Rogue tried to cash in on the box office success of that film. However, if that was the case, the constant delays and the eventual decision, deliberate or otherwise, to release it on the back of 'The Grudge 2' backfired, because that film did not perform anywhere near as well. That was a mistake. There also seems to have been studio interference in the film and what we have now is not exactly what director Asif Kapadia intended. Having said that, I have read some very positive reaction from people who have seen the film, although I should say that I have not gone out of my way to seek out negative comments (and I'm sure there are plenty of those as well). In the end, though, had 'The Return' really been perceived as a horror film by cinemagoers it almost certainly would have taken a lot more money at the box office. I think I am right in saying that horror films tend, generally speaking, to have good opening weekends, no matter what the pre-release buzz is.

It would seem that the generic horror film audience did not go to see 'The Return'. The film probably found most of its audience; it's just that it isn't a very big audience. It's not the first film that has happened to and it won't be the last. Gellar's film career is undoubtedly in a period of transition , but it most likely isn't coming to an end just yet.

[ edited by dashboardprophet on 2006-11-12 13:10 ]
a few of them arguing that the film is not a horror film and is therefore not any good.

I've not seen a review that dissed the movie just for not being a horror movie. They mostly seem to say it isn't a horror movie and it isn't a very good movie.
If The Grudge could pull in 100 Mil, then this film could easily bring 200 MIL.

It was never going to get that much money - aside from the fact that would make it the biggest horror film ever released, it was also on a relatively small number of screens, so it couldn't physically take that much money.

The Grudge had a lot of hype with it, as did The Ring, along with Blair Witch Project. This film didn't.

I'll still go and see it when it opens, like.
helcat: Perhaps the wording in some of the reviews wasn't stating that outright, and I'm not saying it was the only factor, but I for one have definitely gotten the impression from a few of them that the dislike was greatly enhanced by having gone in expecting to be reviewing one kind of film, only for it to end up not being that kind of film at all. It's only natural to be put slightly off balance in reviewing something that you had preconceived ideas about which turn out to be false. For the first 45 minutes I'm sure a bunch of people were sitting there waiting to be scared and being slightly distracted when they weren't.

[ edited by Impossible on 2006-11-12 19:39 ]
Yeah guys, I know The Return couldn't take in 200 million, I was just stating that it was that much better of a movie than the Grudge, story wise. No comparrison really.
Looking at how very little advertisement the movie actually got, I'm frankly surprised it's doing as well as it is. If I wern't a big fan of SMG, I wouldn't have known anything about it.

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