One of the best French exports in years

Les Revenants'Episode 1'"Camille"
Les Revenants'Episode 1'"Camille"

Riding on the waves of the influx of continental television earlier this year, ‘The Returned’ proved to be one of Channel 4’s biggest successes.

‘Les Revenants’, to give it its French title, is an eight-part series set in a quiet village in the Alps - but things have been bubbling under the surface for a while.

Beautifully filmed, the pilot begins with a young girl walking away from a bus crash. But we soon find out she had died in that same bus crash four years previously.

And she is not the first one to ‘return’ either.

As the series progresses more and more returnees appear, all of whom seem to have suffered violent and gruesome deaths in and around the small town.

To make it more unusual, none of them seem to know that they have died and all of them expect things to be the same sometimes decades after their demise.

But there are even stranger events to come as the reservior that borders the town appears to shrink as more ‘returnees’ appear.

And to make it worse, following the appearance of an odd little boy called Victor, a spate of murders begins.

Then there is the fanatical Christian leader of the local ‘Helping Hand’ centre who appears to be stockpiling for some kind of apocalypse and who certainly knows more than he is letting on.

The first few episodes are slow, building on atmosphere as things go from strange to stranger.

It has to be said that the atmosphere is contributed to considerably by the eerie and excellent soundtrack by Scottish band, Mogwai.

Make no mistake, ‘The Returned’ has been one of the greatest things to hit our television screens this year (and allowed Channel 4 to knock BBC 4 off its perch a little bit). But if you’re looking for a rounded ending look elsewhere.

Series two has been commissioned but it has not yet started filming in France so it will be a long wait before we get ANY answers to what has been going on.

So if you’re prepared to wait then by all means go ahead. But you might want to give it a while because you are sure to get hooked.

The DVD includes the episodes ‘Camille’, ‘Simon’, ‘Julie’, ‘Victor’, ‘Serge Et Toni’, ‘Lucy’, ‘Adele’ and ‘La Horde’.

The Returned - Series One (Cert 18, 440 mins, Universal Pictures (UK) Ltd) is out now on DVD.