Les Revenants (The returned) is an eight-episode TV series which was originally broadcast on French channel Canal+ in November/December 2012 and then aired on Channel 4 in June/July 2013. Set in a contemporary French suburb, the series revisits the zombie theme but without the usual gore and horror associated with it. Deceased people of all ages unexpectedly return to their home place and simply want to resume their respective lives.
The basic premise of the series was borrowed from the eponymous 2004 Robin Campillo fantastic French drama which focused on the technical difficulties and emotional consequences associated with the return of 13,000 dead people to the social fabric of another suburban French city.
Les Revenants was scored by Scottish post-rock band Mogwai who were initially contacted by the producers of the show before shooting even started.
Six months before filming, we were casting the actors and I thought it was very important to cast the music for the series, as it would be a main character in the drama. I love what Mogwai do in general, but especially the film about Zinedine Zidane (Mogwai wrote the soundtrack for “Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait”). It was a strange movie and the music was spectacular. When I was writing the scripts I was listening to that music a lot.
Fabrice Gobert (writer & director of the series) – Channel 4/Mogwai Q&A
Without any early footage or images available, the band worked from a basic synopsis of the script and from a few film references suggested by the authors. While the cult series Twin Peaks and its surreal small town atmosphere is an obvious influence, so is the work of American photographer Gregory Crewdson or of Swedish director Thomas Alfredson’s horror film Let the Right One In.
Every episode is introduced by a one minute opening featuring “Hungry Face”, the signature tune which perfectly frames the series’ eerie atmosphere.
Featuring a lot less saturated guitar than in their previous recordings, the complete soundtrack for Les Revenants is entirely based on short piano, chiming keyboard, guitar and strings instrumentals (bar one gospel song cover) and was released in February 2013. Throughout most of the key scenes, Mogwai’s score sustains the series’ unsettling tension stemming from the constant clash between the banality of everyday life and the supernatural.
The metaphysical thriller will return for a second season in autumn 2014 with Mogwai on board for the soundtrack.