The Return, 2006
Screenwriter, Adam Sussman: “I wanted to write something about the dead reconnecting with the living. Nothing was really clicking until I came across scientifically documented cases of very young children who had spontaneous memories of things and people and places that they could never possibly have known about. After doing more research and reading about the memories and stories that these children were accessing, I found that usually there was violence involved; a life had been cut short – and there was a reason for the return.”

The return is about a new supernatural thriller starring Sarah Michelle Gellar as Joanna Mills, a tough young Midwesterner determined to learn the truth behind the increasingly terrifying supernatural visions that have been haunting her. This movie offers something different. The film is described as a terrifying story about being haunted. The haunting is set in motion in a unique manner; and neatly tucked into the tale is a story about a woman on a journey of self-discovery.

Producer Aaron Ryder theorized on Gellar’s involvement: “In the Return, Gellar’s fans will be excited to see hear really flexing her acting muscles. She’s playing a role that you haven’t seen her do before, and you’ll be seeing her in a different way. I think the complexities and seriousness of Joanna attracted her.” The Return also stars Sam Shepard and Aussie Peter O’Brien who is making his American film debut.

The Return revolves around Joanna Mills, a restless 25-year-old who never stays in the same spot. Joanna has made a successful career for herself, as sales representative for a trucking company. Since her job as a sale representation takes her from one place to another, it seems like a sweet deal despite the fact that it leaves her personal life in shambles. Then she arrives at La Salle, Texas, and she may as well have entered the Twilight Zone. Joanna starts seeing a reflection that isn’t hers and seeing people who aren’t there and worse still, one of them wants to kill her.

Unfortunately for Joanna, these aren’t good memories or feelings – she sees and feels the brutal murder of a young woman she’s never met. Convinced she’s not hallucinating, Joanna is determined to find out why this is happening to her……

Sarah Michelle Gellar plays a woman who sometimes sees someone else’s reflection in the mirror in The Return

The appeal behind the script was the simplicity of it all, and thus the audience sees the story unfolding in a visual format than through the conventional conversation style. This idea sat very well with director Kapadia who wanted to generate the dramatic tension with presentation and imagery. Ridding everything excessive and focusing on just the essence of the story, Kapadia kept pushing the boundaries with each scene.

The director, Londoner Kapadia, said: “My aim with The Return was to create an unsettling atmosphere, scare people, but in a way that they don’t always know why they are feeling that way”.

Actor Dam Scott: “The film has to do with real people – it is outlandish and high-concept; then the supernatural element creeps in. It is an interesting mixture.”

Kapadia: “Different people – in different religious – have been brought up with the concept that people might die and come back in another life in another form. The point of view of The Return is that people are on some sort of path and that we’re not all separate beings. Somehow, there’s a force out there that links things up. You can try to come back to correct something that happened to you in another life.”

Gellar was fascinated with the underlying theme found in the story about life being cyclical. She Said: “You come and live your life and then you come back and fix the things from the past. The Return is about how you need to finish your life before you can truly transcend to what is essentially the next life – and what happens if you don’t finish what you wree meant to do on Earth. If emotions carry over, what happens?”

Gellar surmised, “One of the things that I particularly liked about Joanne was that she speaks so well for everybody – young girls, middle-aged women – who understand what it’s like to not belong. She feels that she never did belong, that her place was never her own and then finds out that these feelings are true. She takes action to find her identity and find where her place is.”

The Return 2006

No mater how you colour your canvas, at the heart of The Return is a story about a girl.

Read the review from New York Time.