When the PR machine was working its magic, building up to the release of the movie, something very strange accompanied it. The email announcement with the requisite promo images and trailer link had the message "This is not The Grudge 2." Tell me something, is this a good thing to include? Or is it lazy marketing? Maybe just a bad trailer, but this does not bode well for the film if the ads could be confused with another recent film.
Anyway, I made my way to the theater, making sure to keep my expectations in check. I sat through the film, shaking my head before the credits rolled and I was able to leave and attempt to regain some semblance of brain activity.
Every once in a while a film comes out that makes no sense and while you are attempting to connect point A and point B, they throw in point C which throws all of your prior thoughts out the window. That is if you are even able to generate some thoughts to begin with.
The movie focuses on Joanna Mills (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a woman who has thrown herself into her work in an attempt to drown out her past. It's a past that has put a strain on her relationship with her father and not allowed her to make many, if any, personal friends. Everyone is kept at arm's length.
Joanna's life is turned upside down when she starts having visions. She sees herself as another woman – a woman who met a tragic end in La Salle, Texas. These visions lead her to travel back there to try and put the pieces together.
Whatever. The film is a bore and fails to generate any sort of tension or mystery. When the final reveal is made, you are sure to be left wondering what the point was of everything that came before it. On top of that, there was no chemistry between any of the characters, while telling a story that went nowhere. It was hard enough just staying awake while watching Gellar's blank gaze for 90 minutes.
To even try and describe the plot beyond what I have already said would be giving the film too much credit. To say it had a plot is giving it too much credit. Gellar creeps around at a glacial pace, with occasional speed bursts as she runs from something or other. Most of the time we are being moved forward with passages of clunky dialogue followed by more creeping around. Occasionally a character will float into view and deliver some bad bit of exposition before the creeping starts again.
The Return seems to be a story of confronting the past, but nothing is set up in any concrete manner. We learn that Joanna had some life altering event that seemingly changed her into a different person, but nothing is ever dealt with. She creeps around town, meets a mysterious stranger, is stalked by some old guy, and has a slightly disturbing encounter with a co-worker/ex-boyfriend (?) that comes out of nowhere and doesn't have any impact on the rest of the film.
I don't know. As I write this I feel about as scattershot as the movie was. It was all over the place, taking swipes at nothing but air. I actually could not wait for it to be over, much like you are as you read this.