Every October, millions of people around the world begin to plan for the scariest night of the year, Halloween. To prepare for this night, parties are organized and scary movies are picked from an array of titles to watch. To help with the selection, Austin Fusion will be recommending and reviewing two locally made thriller/horror films. The first is the 2006 flick “The Return.” Austin can be a scary place, if you let it be.
The movie opens with the familiar and comforting voice of Sam Shepard — a well-known and wonderful actor that can play the loving father with ease. It doesn’t take long for it to take a turn and reveal that it won’t be your typical father-daughter relationship movie, and you find out that there is something dark hiding within the beautiful little girl Shepard just wants to protect.
Fast forward 11 years, we find the same little girl, who has grown into a beautiful yet troubled Sarah Michelle Gellar, working as a traveling salesman, closing deals for her the trucking company she works for. When she travels to the one place she vowed never to return — Texas — things begin to take a turn and fragments of past visions force their way into her waking conscience. With the help of a recluse with a past, brought to life with subtle brilliance by Peter O’Brien, the truth finds it’s way free.
This isn’t the typical scare you out of your skin movie, but it provides the necessary tension and mystery, and you have to be careful that you don’t let your mind travel down the dark path to fear. The truth and understanding of the elements presented in the film reveal it’s self at the proper time. There may be times when you are left confused and wondering where the plot is going, but in due time you will be caught up. Not everything needs to be laid out in front of you, and this allows you to take the journey with Gellar.
The cast is something to marvel at while they inhabit the screen. The names of some are ones you are familiar with and adore for their past roles. Shepard (pretty much everything), Gellar (the strong and courageous Buffy), and Adam Scott (the best bully of a brother there ever was). However, in this film, Gellar and Scott play against type. Luckily for the audience, these turns are done with care and you are able to view them as actors instead of their iconic characterizations.
There are moments throughout the film that are less than desirable. Without going into too much detail, Scott fully sheds his jovial skins and turns into a man to be frightened of, and you are, but you end up wondering why he was there in the first place. It’s not the perfect film, but if you are focus on the path you are already on, you can overlook these mishaps.
This movie was filmed when a lot of productions were shooting at the same time in Austin. However, the scenery and locations used during filming are completely different than the others. For example, during a gathering of old friends, a downtown bar is transformed from a posh city bar into the hotspot of small town. This is achieved simply by the way the location is filmed and the editing choses. There are other landmarks that signify Austin, like recognizable road signs and overpasses, but you are so lost in the story you believe you are seeing a foreign city. It expresses just how vast and beautiful our city truly is. For a brief moment you forget that Austin is this massive urban city, but instead see it as a small Texas town with secrets at every turn.
If you are looking for a movie that will have you jumping out of your seat and hiding under the blanket, this isn’t the movie for you. “The Return” will provide you with tension and confusion to make your blood pressure rise, and sometimes those are the movies that help you get into the right mindset for a night where your mind runs wild and plays tricks on you.
Written and Image by Lisa Mejia (firstname.lastname@example.org)