Haunted by the Past
Release Date: November 10, 2006
Starring: Sarah Michelle Geller, Peter
O'Brien, Adam Scott, Kate
Beahan, and Sam Shepard
Audience: Teenagers and adults
Runtime: 85 minutes
Distributor: Rogue Pictures/Focus Features
Director: Asif Kapadia
Executive Producer: Trevor Macy and Marc D. Evans
Producer: Aaron Ryder and Jeffrey Silver
Writer: Adam Sussman
Address Comments To:James Schamus, President
Focus Features/Rogue Pictures
A Division of Universal Pictures
65 Bleecker St., 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10012
Phone: (212) 539-4000
Fax: (212) 539-4099
The movie opens with a little girl, Joanna, going to a carnival with her father. They've just been in a car accident, and Joanna seems to be stalked by a man associated with the accident in some way.
Years later, Joanna is a young driven saleswoman working in St. Louis. She jumps at the chance to go back to her hometown in Texas on a special assignment. There, Joanna begins having visions of the past that seem to be wrapped up in the mystery of that traffic accident. The visions have something to do with a small town named La Salle, which was near the carnival that she and her father visited years ago.
Joanna goes to La Salle to find out what happened. There, she meets an older man named Terry, whose wife was murdered the same night of the mysterious traffic accident. Joanna begins seeing visions of Terry's dead wife, who seems to share some special kind of spiritual connection to Joanna.
THE RETURN turns out to be a mystery thriller focused on the identity of the person who murdered Terry's wife. Terry is a prime suspect in the town, but it becomes clear that someone else is the killer. Also a mystery is why Joanna seems to be having visions of Terry's wife on the night she was murdered, visions that seem to be related to the mysterious traffic accident years ago involving Joanna and her dad.
THE RETURN is a surprisingly effective, but unspectacular, thriller with lots of mystery and a generous amount of spooky situations. The heroine seems to be haunted by the spirit of the murdered woman, but the movie minimizes the occult nature of the heroine's visions. There is an allusion to some kind of possession, but that is unclear. Ultimately, the heroine's supernatural connection with the dead woman is explained in a naturalistic manner having to do with the mysterious traffic accident in the plot. The explanation is not overtly Christian, but it is not overtly anti-Christian or occult. The explanation does have, however, some positive moral connotations because it involves the love between Terry and his dead wife and the love Joanna's father has for his daughter. In the end, the mysteries are solved, a vicious murderer gets his just desserts, and Joanna is freed from her nightmarish visions. Metaphorically speaking, both Joanna and Terry are haunted by what happened in the past. The movie's ending relieves that trauma in a poignant manner.
THE RETURN contains brief foul language, a love scene, violence, and scenes of men stalking and attacking women, so extreme caution is warranted.
THE RETURN is a surprisingly effective, but unspectacular, thriller with lots of mystery and a generous amount of spooky situations. The heroine seems to be haunted by the spirit of the murdered woman, but the movie minimizes the occult nature of the heroine's visions. Despite some brief negative elements requiring extreme caution, the movie contains some moral aspects and a poignant ending. The mysteries are solved, a vicious murderer gets his just desserts, and Joanna is freed from her nightmarish visions.