TV Club: The Returned is opening its eyes

The camera locks in on a character we’ve presumed dead. Their eyes are closed, they’re not breathing—all onscreen vital signs point to negative. But the camera’s holding on the body, so the filmmakers are building anticipation for something. With or without a zoom, it’s a visual shorthand for “Closer. Come closer…” Finally, the tension breaks, the inevitable occurs, and the corpse opens its eyes. Cut to black.

It’s a tired old trick, and if you want to see it handled poorly, watch the best episode of Mystery Science Theater 3000‘s Sci-Fi Channel seasons, Space Mutiny. The film featured in the episode ends with a POV shot that meanders its way toward the charred remains of the villainous Kalgan, last seen perishing in the fiery collision of two bumper cars. The dead air of the sequence leaves a wide berth for Mike Nelson and …

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