Sarah Michelle Gellar shudders, runs and occasionally looks vaguely concerned in The Return, a feckless, fright-less ghost story that might have benefited from a different star. Buffy plays Joanna, a Midwest sales rep haunted by a series of déjà vu flashbacks, involving a threatening Marlboro Man. Director Asif Kapadia (The Warrior) jumps from Hackney to Hollywood (via India) to direct with flair, crafting shocks out of thin air. That can't save this movie from being as substantial as ecotoplasm.
"Sometimes I think if I keep moving forward nothing bad can catch me," whispers Joanna as she runs from her estranged pops (Sam Shepard) and stalker ex-boyfriend (Adam Scott). But (pause for effect): she can't escape the demons inside her. So, she heads off to a dustbowl town she's seen in her supernatural visions to find answers, while Kapadia throws in a scare - Haunted car radio! Psycho ex! - every ten minutes to keep us on the edge of our seats. Or stop us nodding off...
"SMG IS A SCREAM QUEEN FOR THOSE WHO DON'T LIKE HORROR MOVIES"
It proves what many people have been suspecting for a while now: SMG is a scream queen for audiences who don't like horror movies. Seeing her at the top of the credits list is like seeing one of those advisory stickers saying "this movie contains mild peril" it's an implicit guarantee that Leatherface won't turn up, intestines will stay safely inside stomach cavities and you won't have nightmares. A horror flick brainstormed in a studio boardroom, The Return plays like What Lies Beneath: bland, safe and unlikely to trouble anyone with an age in double figures.