The Return is a short film with a lot of ambition. It tells the tale of a teenager who runs away from home only to return – transformed. As a meditation on revenge and guilt, the film makes a lovely twist on the zombie genre. Personally, however, the one thing it truly strives for – exciting VFX – is the one thing that lets it down most.
This short has a great concept and a strong script to go with it and Raynai directs the action wonderfully. These strengths are only somewhat undermined by the shaky acting, but in a film of this budget such a weakness is only to be expected and does not distract too much from the concept.
So, the visual effects. I should qualify my thoughts on this aspect of the film by pointing out that I have issues with the over use of digital effects in horror (or any genre). The visual effects used in The Return are far from terrible, however, I dislike the extent to which they’re used. The practical make-up effects used in The Return are wonderful, and it seems a shame that more make-up effects weren’t used in place of the digital effects. Personally, I’d rather see slightly cheap-looking make-up effects on a zombie, than nice-looking digital ones. Instead of thinking ‘oh my god, he’s a zombie!’ in this film, I found myself thinking ‘huh, check out those digital effects’. This may be due to my own aversion to the pervasive use of computer-generated effects, but my point is thus: make up is actually there, a digital effect isn’t. I’m far more likely to believe in a less-than-perfect make-up effect than a less-than-perfect digital effect.
The Return shows a lot of potential, but a reliance on digital effects won’t, in my opinion, allow that potential to shine.
For more information on the film, check out the website: http://www.willhereturn.com/