Produced in 1983, THE RETURNING is an undeveloped tale of American Indian mysticism which bounced from one video company to another before finally being released in the wake of DANCES WITH WOLVES. The reasons for the movie's shelving are pretty clear: its story appears to have been
intended as a psychological study with supernatural trappings, but director Joel Bender treats it like a traditional scare show, with the result that neither aspect is developed to satisfaction.
John Ophir (Gabriel Walsh) is a family man whose son Jason (Brian Foleman) is so smart that he can identify passages from Spenser's Fairie Queen. On a trip into the desert, the father and son find a strange stone, and take it home with them. But the rock is actually some sort of black magic
relic, and it causes John to have strange hallucinations and creates mysterious noises in the Ophir house. Ultimately, the talisman's powers appear to cause the death of John's son, who is run down by a truck on the street outside their house.
After Jason's death, John begins to disintegrate mentally; at the same time, the truck driver, Al Lyons (Victor Arnold), begins to have the same visions as John and also starts behaving strangely. John, meanwhile, is acting callous and distant at home and paying deranged visits to his son's old
classroom. His wife Sybil (Susan Strasberg) can't figure out what's going on at first, but it eventually is revealed that John had a past life as an Indian in the area. Lyons, it turns out, is the reincarnation of the warrior's old enemy, and the stone has served as a supernatural conduit to bring
their battling spirits into present-day conflict. It takes the ancient magic of a modern-day medicine man (Mostea Oshley) to exorcise the possessive ghosts before their two human subjects destroy each other.
There is an element of mystery to the question of how John and Lyons are connected, and what the son's death has to do with their conflict, but THE RETURNING is so slow that it's hard to pay close attention to it. Certain moments in the movie have promise, but the whole doesn't develop enough
interest in John or his plight to succeed. The film has a decidedly cheap appearance, too; time has not been kind to the tacky optical effects or the overall low-budget look. Given the film's grainy images, it's surprising to note that the cinematographer was Oliver Wood, who has since moved up to
such megabuck productions as DIE HARD 2. But it would come as no surprise to find that Wood and just about everyone else associated with THE RETURNING has left this title off their resumes. (Violence, profanity, adult situations.)
Cast & Details See all »
- Released: 1991
- Rating: NR
- Review: Produced in 1983, THE RETURNING is an undeveloped tale of American Indian mysticism which bounced from one video company to another before finally being released in the wake of DANCES WITH WOLVES. The reasons for the movie's shelving are pretty clear: its… (more)