The Return (2004)

Rated 2.0

A troubled young woman (Sarah Michelle Gellar) returns to her Texas hometown on business and is drawn to a neighboring town, where she’s haunted by cryptic memories of her childhood—but are these memories real or imagined? For that matter, are they even her own? Gellar gives an earnest, intelligent performance, as does Sam Shepard in a glorified cameo as her father, and director Asif Kapadia manages to maintain suspense and provide some effective scares without resorting to anything cheap or grisly. But Adam Sussman’s script is slapdash and hackneyed, merely a good ending in search of a proper buildup. Sussman introduces supporting characters without explanation, then drops them without warning, while the central characters—Gellar’s and a mysterious stranger (Peter O’Brien)—remain undeveloped.