There are only two tragedies in life: one is not getting what one wants, and the other is getting it.
Return is a 2023 short period mystery drama film directed and written by Kat Dubrow. It stars Tessa Marriott and Heather Dubrow.
After being stuck in her dream-like 70s home for forever, young Samantha begins to question why her parents will not let her leave.
So, for those of you that don't know, Return is a short film that was released on Vimeo. Watch it here. It's only about five minutes long, and it is absolutely incredible. And the craziest part? It's made by a sixteen-year-old.
This film is able to pack a big punch with a very short runtime. The movie acts as a 70s period piece, and to do something like that for a story as quick as this is incredibly impressive. The production design, costumes, music, and acting all reflect that time period, and it just allows you to immediately become immersed in the story you are watching.
It also some pretty interesting layers to peel back after you watch it for the first time. There's a lot of room for interpretation as to what the film means. It isn't clear exactly what's going on in the story, but things are implied and there are subtle hints given as to what exactly the director is going for. It makes for a very impactful viewing experience that will leave you pondering what everything meant after you watch.
Speaking of the director, Kat Dubrow is...wow. Sixteen! There are some incredibly advanced techniques that I think some Hollywood directors wouldn't be able to pull off. As I mentioned before, the 70s aesthetic that she creates is incredible. She also is able to convey a sense of increasing intensity as the film goes on simply through camera movements and sound. It's truly something else.
I also think the lead actress here, Tessa Marriott, does a really great job. She is able to play off of the 70s setting and has this very old-timey feel to her performance with a touch of modern that just lets you get entirely invested in her performance. Her facial expressions and simple things she does with her voice make you understand entirely what this character is going through.
Honest to God, I really don't have anything negative to say about this movie. The one thing that I can see being a problem for people is that the movie doesn't really provide answers. It's not meant to, and I view that as a good thing, but some people could definitely get annoyed by a mystery that remains a mystery by the end. I think that works better for the film, though. I think it makes it a more impactful and thought-provoking experience.
Final Thoughts and Score
Return feels like the five-minute version of what Don't Worry Darling wanted to be. It's a fantastic achievement by any standards, and it's made by a sixteen-year-old. Once again, please click here to watch this thing. It's great.
I will go Sweet here. Age range is 7+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad) Moldy (Terrible)
Fun Factor: 8.5/10
Directed by Kat Dubrow
Released on May 18, 2023
Tessa Marriott as Samantha
Heather Dubrow as Margie
Terry Dubrow as Roger