Saturday, January 11, 2014

Zombie, but not zombie

I recently watched Season 1 of The Returned, after reading this New York Times article. Tremendous television, with visuals that range from tourist-y panoramic to occult nightmare.

What is The Returned? It’s a bit of Twin Peaks mixed with a pinch of zombie. Or, as I like to tell people, “It’s zombie, but not zombie.” I say that mainly because I’m so very bored with the mainstreaming and cultural oversaturation of zombies.

It’s not that I was obsessed with zombies before they became popular. It’s just that zombies are not that compelling: they chase you, they eat your brain, and then they look for more. You can squeeze in a bit of consumer critique, or black humour, but I feel that there’s a limited room to innovate in the zombie genre.

Was I pleasantly surprised by the speed of the zombies in 28 Days? Yes, yes I was. A glimmer of something new. Did I find the po-mo romantic comedy Zombieland charming? Yes of course. Was I surprised at the emergent behaviour of the zombies in World War Z? I was indeed. Seeing all those zombies act like ants in order to scale tall walls was great. Too bad the rest of the movie (except for the airplane scene) was so boring.

And don’t get me started on the Walking Dead. I watched some or all of Season 1 (I honestly don’t remember) before getting zzzzzzzombie fatigue.

So when I tell you that The Returned is zombie, but not zombie, that means something. It means it’s a show worth watching, even though it has subtitles. Yes, the show is that good.

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Update! On April 10, 2014 I received an email about this blog post that began "You're doing it wrong." The rest of the email was a defence of The Walking Dead, which didn't change my mind, but was thoughtful nonetheless.