THE RETURN (aka HOMECOMING, 2020)
Directed by BJ Verot.
Written by BJ Verot, Ken Janssens.
Starring Richard Harmon, Echo Andersson, Sara Thompson, Marina Stephenson Kerr, Erik Athavale, Gwendolyn Collins, Zoe Fish, Kristen Sawatzky, Adam Brooks, Maclean Fish, Keaton Fish, Callie Lane, Jaydee-Lynn McDougall, Jan Skene
Returning to his childhood home where his sister was murdered in front of him and his mother disappeared, Rodger (Richard Harmon) has to pack up his home after his father mysteriously dies. With him is his girlfriend Beth (Sara Thompson) and his best friend Jordan (Echo Andersson) who plan on helping him through this trying time. When they arrive, Rodger’s past literally comes back to haunt him as a dark specter begins appearing around the home. Somehow this all ties in with his mother’s disappearance, his sister’s death, his father’s suicide, quantum physics, time travel, repressed memories, and hypnosis.
THE RETURN is a mixed bag of a movie. It’s got decent acting from likable characters. Echo Andersson is especially good as Jordan, as is Sara Thompson as Rodger’s girlfriend. Right from the beginning, the complex relationship between Rodger, Beth, and Jordan is established in a pretty clear and smart way as Beth rides in the back, while Rodger and Jordan ride in the front. Yes, this is a simple way to shoot the three main characters, but it also illustrates where Rodger’s heart really directs him, despite the fact that he is with Beth. Richard Harmon is actually a strong actor as well. The young actor has been in quite a few horror films like GRAVDE ENCOUNTERS 2, DARKNESS FALLS, TV’s BATES MOTEL, and VAN HELSING to name a few. While it is great seeing him in a challenging role as the angsty object of two women’s desires, I can’t help but see him as the Arnie Cunningham/Columbine goth-looking kid, so when he has to look anything but ominous, looking down and up with heavy-lidded eyes, it is harder to buy. Harmon has range, but he just plays the creepy kid really well.
The problem with THE RETURN is that it doesn’t seem to know what kind of movie it wants to be. This one feels like a hodge podge of different parts of other movies loosely stitched together. There’s a dark floating ghost haunting the house. There are elements of time travel and quantum physics. There’s the complex relationship between the three leads. And then there’s this whole side-quest where Rodger has repressed memories that need unburying through hypnosis by his psychologist. It’s too much for one movie. None of these elements are delved into deep enough, except for the love triangle, making the haunting, the time travel, and the hypnosis less effective. It’s as if three different people wrote a script and they just glommed all three together with not enough thought.
Add in a fairly generic title and some dodgy CG and you has a film with potential, but ultimately doesn’t work. Even with some strong performances and a few decent scares, THE RETURN is a Frankenstein-like movie with parts that just don’t quite fit.