American Fable is ambitious, maybe too much so sometimes, but there's an intense pleasure in the boldness of the film's style.
My first reaction to having to watch yet another zombie movie? Ugh. I decided to swear them off after the rather toothless PG-13 version of "World War Z". And this is coming from an idolizer of George Romero’s early and much-imitated body of work.
But it didn’t take long for "The Returned" to establish itself as having more ambition than just being another excuse for flesh-eating monsters to run amok while humans attempt to eradicate their organ-gorging kind. Instead, it is less of a horror flick and more of a suspense thriller with sci-fi elements that possesses both brains–some sacrificed in messy fashion, of course–and a heart, as it makes a statement about an imaginary social issue that reflects those conflicts facing our country today.
Instead of, say, the haves vs. the have-nots or legislation against illegal immigrants, there is a battle between the healthy and the infected. A zombie outbreak that happened a while ago that caused millions to die has since been contained, thanks to a miracle of modern medicine. If caught in time, those bitten can receive a daily shot to stave off their transformation into snarling blood-thirsty fiends. These beings who find themselves in this human-zombie limbo are known as the Returned and not everyone is happy about their presence.
Exemplifying this new normal is Toronto couple Kate (Emily Hampshire, a near-ringer for Parker Posey) and Alex (Kris Holden-Ried, a near-ringer for musician Richard Thompson). She is a doctor who specializes in treating the Returned and he is a talented guitar teacher who happens to be one of the Returned. That they live in a fabulous high-rise condo with ultra-modern furnishings and seem mad for each other lead us to believe that such a situation might work.