Saturday, December 19, 2009

The Return: Oh Those Teenage Zombie's and Their Issues!

My latest foray into independent horror movies comes in the form of a film by Elli Raynai called The Return. The story is about a young man who runs away from home and returns later as a zombie. The film is short but handles the zombie genre well and even manages to create a story with characters that have depth. While in the end I was filled with all sorts of burning questions- I still saw quite a bit of potential in Raynai and am very excited to follow his career.

Short films can be very tricky- questions will always be raised and people will always want more. For me the most exciting part of The Return came during the flashback scene of Elijah's runaway. The zombie make up of the zombie hiding in the bushes was very stunning. Up until that point the zombie make up had all been done digitally- which was very surprising to me. So when this zombie started growling in the weeds and I got a look at his face I was more than thrilled. There is a close up of this makeup in the gallery section of the film's website which I implore you to check out. Oh and also make sure you take a look at the extremely impressive artwork while you are there! I also loved the blood effect at the end of the film- and the dialogue between Ellijah and his father up on the roof.

There is a flaw in the overuse of digital makeup for the zombies however. It is an interesting effect actually and almost makes the zombies comic book looking- but the problem is that it doesn't entirely make sense to me. As I said, the zombie with the real makeup was so much more thrilling- so why not use real makeup for all the zombies? It wasn't a deal breaker or even that distracting by a long shot but it was just something that made me raise my little horror movie aficionado ears and wonder. The sound effects chosen for the zombies were also sort of questionable. They sounded more like ravenous tigers and I would have enjoyed it better if the actors had been making the noises themselves.

As I said before short films can be tricky and I found myself grappling with questions about why the mother wasn't freaking out that her son looked well- like a zombie. I was also confused about the time frame if this was a year after he ran away what was he doing for a year? Or is it even a year later and the beginning was all just some kind of dream? I longed for more backstory on Elijah's situation and didn't quite understand why he would be running away- or why he was using the roof to make his getaway in the first place- he seemed old enough to use the front door and make a real scene. Also- wouldn't the mother and the sister have heard that extremely loud gunshot?

With the questions this movie raised I still found myself pleased at the way Raynai could handle a movie in such a short amount of time. There are some surprisingly great shots, a genuinely creepy snowy atmosphere and pretty decent writing. The story is unique and perhaps if the film had been longer Elijah could have been fleshed out more. I also must say that I truly enjoyed the brief moment of Elijah's only non zombie lines- and I found myself wishing to see more of a non zombie Elijah. There is so much potential to be seen from this little movie-and if I learned anything it is that Elli Raynai is extremely capable of making a decent movie. This is his first stab at a horror movie and I am sincerely hoping that he will continue to make more.

1 comment:

Highly Caffeinated said...

The trailer looks pretty good! That digi make up is pretty cool, not as good as in camera effects, but it does give a certain style to them.

Perhaps the choice of digital make up was due to time restrictions.

I just shot my first zombie short last week, and each zombie took an hour in the chair. With two make up artists, I had six people in zombie make up for up to 3 hours before shooting a thing. Not so pleasant for people doing it for the love of being a zombie.