The Returned (2013)

The Returned is a 2013 Spanish-Canadian thriller film directed by Manuel Carballo, written by Hatem Khraiche, and starring Emily Hampshire, Kris Holden-Ried, Shawn Doyle, and Claudia Bassols. It has a horror theme of zombies but the focus is less on that and more on the survivors of a disease that turns people into zombies and on the relationship of the two main leads and their friends.

In the alternate universe of this film, a plague that turns victims into zombies first showed up in the 1980s and causes the death of over 100 million people. Scientists do heavy research for a cure but are only able to come up with a serum that needs to be injected daily to ward off the effects. If the subject misses a single dose they quickly change into a feral state and attack people. The formula can only extracted from the dead zombies and hence by current times supplies have started running low. The infected humans have to endure discrimination, taunts and even violent threats from bigoted humans.

Kate, who is a physician in Toronto working with the Returned, has just finished counseling a young boy’s parents on the treatment for him. We then see her buying black market does of the cure, from a pharmacist at the same hospital, and stocking them for fear that they will run out soon. Kate’s own husband Alex, a music teacher, got infected 6 years ago when he attempted to assist a man whom he thought was having a seizure. Alex was treated in an army medical facility and then moved to a hospital, where he met Kate and they fell in love. At dinner that weekend Alex confesses to his best friend Jacob & Jacob’s wife Amber that he has been infected for 6 years and they support him. When protestors become violent and the government begins to set up quarantine camps, Jacob and his wife Amber invite Alex and Kate to stay with them outside the city. Kates hospital was attacked by a trio of masked men who killed the returned in their beds. Alex narrowly avoids both an attempted murder but is able to turn the gun towards the attacked and the gun goes off. He & Kate dump the body in the water. Early the next morning Kate goes back into the city to meet her source and buy more doses but finds her dead. On the woman’s body Kate finds one of Amber’s false nails and panics.

She calls Alex who searches the house and finds his supply gone and both Amber & Jacob are missing as well. Alex finds a single dose and a note from Jacob that apologizes for taking the rest, as Amber has become infected. Alex becomes desperate and tries calling Jacob who tearfully tries to justify his actions. Kate returns to the city and reveals her dilemma to the hospital chief, who gives her the hospital’s entire stash. However, the father of the infected boy Kate had treated, overhears her talking to Alex on the phone about the doses and attempts to steal the container, and, in the ensuing fight over it, the entire contents are destroyed. Kate returns to Alex at their apartment and finds him having chained himself in his studio. As he slowly experiences the changes due to not getting the dose he hands Kate the gun and asks her to shoot him. Kate has flashbacks to her childhood when she could not bring herself to kill her mother who had just been bitten & infected by her father but does shoot him offscreen. Later back in the city she goes to the hospital and in told by the chief that the that researchers have created a synthesized treatment! Unable to control her grief she breaks down. In the final scene, some months later, a pregnant Kate prepares to track & kill Jacob and Amber at a book tour.

Good movie with a sober story about the survivors of a plague rather than your typical infected zombie flick. The focus on an infected trying to stay that way and his spouse who wants to help him makes the film unique in it’s genre and hence should be treated more like a thriller than a horror movie. For a small budget ($5 mill) film, I was impressed so a 7.5 outta 10!

What I Would Expect From Medical Science In The Next Few Decades

Yesterday I went with my mom to the hospital as she had to show her regular doctor the results of a test she had done, on his recommendation, at another bigger hospital. Since the visit was routine and he already knew that everything was positive & normal, she just needed to go there for a few minutes and show him the result and come  back. However due to the doctor being held up elsewhere we had a 2 hour wait before she could see him. While waiting I was observing other patients and standers-by at the waiting lounge of the OP section of that hospital.

I saw a couple of older people who were struggling to walk and get up from their seats even. One older gentleman, probably in his 70s, who seemed to have a back problem had come in all alone and just as he was leaving I could hear him on his phone telling someone that he was “done” and was on his way to meet them. A couple of ladies in their late 60s (like my mom) were helping each other get to a seat after speaking at the reception and looked like they could use some help. I got up to help them but they had already found a seat. I gave up my seat to another even more elderly woman as it would have bee easier for her to sit there rather than go all the way to the other side of the lounge where there were a few empty seats.

I hope someday that we develop medical science to such a degree, that even if we can’t stop aging or death, can atleast make us healthy enough to be fully independent to walk around and be active until the day we die. A lot of people stay relatively healthy even into their 80s but a lot don’t. I see a lot of people in their 60s and 70s struggling to cross the street, climb a stairway, get to places – I wish that could be wiped out. I have enough trust in the medical advances – see what it has done for us so far – that we will eventually get there. Not anytime now but perhaps in a few decades or so. That should be a huge focus for us as a race.