|Directed by||Asif Kapadia|
|Produced by||Aaron Ryder|
|Written by||Adam Sussman|
|Starring||Sarah Michelle Gellar|
|Music by||Dario Marianelli|
|Edited by||Claire Simpson|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
The Return is a 2006 American psychological horror film directed by Asif Kapadia and starring Sarah Michelle Gellar, Kate Beahan, Peter O'Brien, and Sam Shepard. It was released theatrically on November 10, 2006, and on DVD on February 27, 2007. The Blu-ray was released on October 6, 2009.
Joanna Mills (Sarah Michelle Gellar), a travelling rep for a trucking company, is dedicated to her successful career but something of a loner. Since the age of 11 she has been a troubled person, with episodes of self-mutilation and menacing visions. Normally she avoids returning to her native Texas, but agrees to a trip there to secure an important client. During the trip her visions, which take the form of memories of events not from her life, increase in intensity. She sees a strange face staring back at her in the mirror. Her truck radio plays Patsy Cline's "Sweet Dreams" no matter what station she selects. She stops at the scene of an accident that, on the following day, seems not to have happened. Joanna cuts herself in a bar restroom and is narrowly rescued by a friend. She visits her father, who observes that from age 11 she was "a different girl". The visions continue, becoming both more specific and more threatening, centering upon a menacing man she does not recognize and a bar she has never seen, but a picture of which is in one of her catalogs.
Drawn by the image to the Texas town where the bar is located, a place she has not been since childhood, Joanna meets a man named Terry Stahl, whose wife, Annie, was stalked, brutally assaulted, and left to die fifteen years before, a crime of which Terry was suspected but not convicted. Joanna continues to have visions of this crime and the events that led up to it, and to discover other links between Annie's life and hers. She meets the real killer and is led by what she has seen in her visions to recover the knife he used from its hiding place. She is then stalked, herself. She finds herself drawn into a repetition of the crime, but this time she stabs her assailant with the recovered knife, using the original weapon to avenge the original crime.
The story ends with the revelation that Annie, clinging to life as Terry drove her to the hospital after the original assault, died when his car crashed into one driven by Joanna's father, in which the eleven-year-old Joanna was a passenger. After momentary unconsciousness, the young Joanna seems to have survived the crash. A silent Joanna is seen reflecting on who she is and what has happened to her. She seems to reach an inner resolution of these questions.
An alternative ending included on the DVD release more straightforwardly supports the interpretation that Annie's soul has been placed in Joanna's body.
- Sarah Michelle Gellar as Joanna Mills
- Sam Shepard as Ed Mills
- Peter O'Brien as Terry Stahl
- Kate Beahan as Michelle
- Adam Scott as Kurt
- Darrian Mcclanahan as Young Joanna Mills
Reviews of the film were mostly negative with 16% positive on Rotten Tomatoes. The biggest criticism was the very slow pace. The artistic tone and cinematography of the film were praised, as was the film as a whole by some, though the average rating was a 3.9/10. The Return opened with what distributor Rogue Pictures called a "very disappointing" $4,800,000 weekend gross.
Except for trailers and TV spots, there was no publicity nor a premiere for the film, as Sarah Michelle Gellar was busy shooting the movie Possession in Vancouver, British Columbia. The film only earned $7.7 million. Worldwide, it made $14,949,851.