Take note people. I am back to watching my regularly scheduled movies. This means that all of the movies that I bought over Christmas, plus the ones that I got from my friends, lasted 4 1/2 months. I have to admit, that is a little bit insane. And while I had a lot of fun watching all of these movies, I am glad to get back on track with getting through my DVD collection. So today’s movie is a horror/thriller that pretty much came and went in theaters back in the mid 2000’s. The only reason I have my copy is because it was a random purchase during the Blockbuster out of business sales. So let’s see what I am in for with today’s movie, The Return (2006).
The plot: 11 year old Joanna Mills is at the fair with her father Ed, though Joanna says she wants to go home. As Ed is getting them some hot dogs, Joanna wanders over to a nearby claw machine when she hears a voice whispering to her and sees a strange man staring at her. Joanna yells for her dad and then hides under a table as the stranger approaches her and continues whispering to her. Joanna breaks the soda bottle she had and uses it to slash at the man’s hands when her dad suddenly grabs her and asks her what happened, with no sign of the stranger anywhere. 15 years later, Joanna works as a travelling rep for a trucking company and has just finished her last assignment. Heading back to the office, she sees her boss talking with her coworker Kurt about Marlin, a possible client, and Joanna says she wants to take a shot at it. When her boss asks if she is sure, as Marlin is based in Texas and Joanna has avoided going there, Joanna says she is so her boss agrees to send her, which upsets Kurt. As Joanna drives to Texas, she calls her father and leaves a message saying she will be close by and wants to try and visit if they can manage it. As she continues driving, her radio suddenly starts playing Patsy Cline’s “Sweet Dreams”, even though she switches the stations, puts in a CD, and mutes it. Freaked out, Joanna pulls over and gets out of her car, and stumbles upon the scene of a car wreck, though nobody is there. The next morning, Joanna finds herself waking up in a field on the side of the road, with no sign of a wreck ever being there. Joanna heads to her meeting, where she says hello to her friend and then makes her pitch to the Marlin’s owner. After her meeting, she is washing her hands in the restroom when she notices her eyes appearing to change colors and has a flashback to riding in the car with her dad. Later that night, Joanna is on the phone with her friend when she hears a whispered voice over their conversation, then notices a strange car in the rearview of her car. As she is out with her friend, Joanna has a strange vision of being in another bar and using a switchblade to cut her arm. Joanna’s friend finds her in the bathroom with a fresh cut on her arm and helps her out of there, thinking that Joanna was just burnt out. Feeling like she has seen the bar somewhere, Joanna goes through all of her files and finally sees it in the catalog for one of the possible clients. Noting that the bar is near the town she grew up in, Joanna heads to her father’s house and stays the night there. The next morning, she asks her father about what happened in La Salle and he tells her that after the accident, she was a different girl and that she started cutting herself. Joanna heads to La Salle and when she sees that the bar is real, gets a room at a nearby motel. That night, she heads to the bar and sees that the inside is exactly as she saw it in her vision. When she goes to sat the bar, she notices a man at the far end of the bar and when their eyes meet, Joanna accidentally knocks over a beer that was next to her. Kurt suddenly shows up and when Joanna tries to leave, he grabs her arm but some of the bar patrons force Kurt to let her go. Joanna quickly heads to her room but Kurt follows her and forces himself in and starts to force himself on her. Joanna is saved by the man from the bar, who follows Kurt outside and proceeds to beat him until some other men pull him off of Kurt but after Kurt runs for it, the other men say that Joanna’s rescuer should have been locked up years ago. The next day, Joanna asks the motel owner about her rescuer and learns that his name is Terry Stahl but she warns Joanna not to get involved with him. Joanna drives to Terry’s house but when she doesn’t get an answer, she heads inside, only to feel like she has been there before and when she hears “Sweet Dreams”, she quickly leaves, only to run into Terry. Terry asks what she is doing there and Joanna said she stopped by to thank him and Terry is harsh about her breaking into his house but tells her that if Kurt bothers her again, to let him know. As she is leaving, Joanna suddenly stares at Terry’s barn and when Terry asks her what is wrong, she says that she thought she heard wind chimes but then quickly leaves. That night, as Joanna is in her motel room, she sees the strange car outside the motel and someone enters the room but when she runs out of her room and alerts the owner, the owner doesn’t see anyone upstairs. The next day, Joanna goes to see Terry at the stockyards that he works at and the two talk for a while before Joanna says she should head back to St. Louis. As Joanna heads for her car, she hears the whispered voice again and the man from her visions suddenly jumps out in front of her. Joanna runs through the stock yards and tries to hide but the man finds her and tries to grab her. Joanna manages to push the man and he gets caught in some gears, allowing Joanna to escape. Quickly heading back to her motel, Joanna packs her bags but freaks when she sees another woman’s face staring at her in the mirror. Joanna heads over to Terry’s house to see him but as she looks around, she notices his bedroom has similar decorations to her own bedroom, including a glass seahorse. When she sees a figure head to the barn, Joanna heads there and looks around before rushing out to her car. Pulling out some pictures she drew as a child, which she grabbed while staying at her father’s house, Joanna takes them into the barn and lays them out, seeing that they match what is painted on the inside of the barn’s wall. Suddenly, Joanna is overcome by a vision of a man attacking a woman, inflicting the same wounds on herself, and sees the man running to his car, dropping a knife into his gas tank before she passes out. When Terry comes home that night and sees Joanna’s truck, he goes looking for her and finds her in the barn. Terry takes her inside and asks who did this to her and she says she did it herself. The next day, Joanna tells Terry that something has drawn her to this town but she had never been there before. She asks Terry about what happened to his wife Annie and he tells her that he found her lying in the barn, just as he found her, and that someone had left her to die. When Joanna tells him that she drew the same mural in the barn when she was a kid and some of the other things that are just like his house, Terry gets upset with her bringing up memories of the past and tells her to leave. Joanna heads out of town, stopping at a garage to get some snacks, when she notices a picture of the man she has been having visions of and the mechanic/owner says that picture was of him from a long time ago. Joanna starts to leave when she notices the car she saw in her vision, now an old rusted heap, and when she checks the gas tank, she sees a hole in it and reaches inside to find the knife from her vision. The mechanic asks what she is doing, calling her “Sunshine”, and Joanna quickly makes an excuse and leaves but as she is driving down the road, the mechanic pulls out in front of her, causing her to wreck. As Joanna lies unconscious in the wreck, she has a vision and sees how Annie was stalked by the mechanic and attacked in her house and barn. The mechanic goes to get the knife back from Joanna but notices that she has recovered and started running so he chases after her. Joanna heads for Terry’s house, only to see that he has boarded it up and with the mechanic following after her, she goes to hide in the barn. The mechanic enters the barn and locks the door to prevent her escape, then tells Joanna he will let her leave if she gives him back the knife. Meanwhile, Terry had been planning on leaving but as he gets outside his property, he heard Joanna yelling for him and heads back to find her. When he enters the barn, the mechanic starts attacking him but Joanna stabs the man in the side with the knife and as he stumbles in pain, he sees Annie instead of Joanna and falls on her, causing the knife Joanna is holding to plunge into his neck. As Terry and Joanna head to town for some medical attention, he stops at an intersection and it is shown that when Terry was driving Annie to the hospital, he crashed into Ed’s car, when he had pulled over to tend to a sleeping Joanna on their way back from the fair. After the cars settled, Ed cried out to Joanna, who was unconscious while Annie ended up dying and part of her spirit went into Joanna’s body, explaining all of the memories and personality change when she was a kid. As Terry and Joanna sit at the intersection, they both seem to come to some inner resolution and continue to head off together.
The Return (2006) met with poor reviews from the critics, holding a 16% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. The critical consensus on the site is that, “Unoriginality may be an acceptable risk in the Horror genre, but boredom is never okay.” The movie was originally going to be called Revolver, but the title was changed when another movie with that title came out in 2005. The movie flopped at the box office, making between $11 and $14 million worldwide off of a $15 million budget, which was blamed on the lack of publicity for the movie.
This was an incredibly slow, and rather boring movie. The acting was ok, with Sarah Michelle Geller (Joanna) and Peter O’Brien (Terry) doing decent jobs in their roles. The story was interesting though not entirely original, as the idea of someone gaining memories in order to solve a past crime has been done before in one form or another. The pacing in this movie was pretty bad, with things moving too slow to really keep people invested in the movie. The editing was also pretty bad, with sometimes you are unable to hear what some of the people are saying, particularly Joanna. It had a lot of potential to be good but the end result was just disappointing.
Rating: 2 out of 5