Something is coming. Can a more sinister phrase exist? Something is coming for you - and your family. Something evil. Something terrifying. Something that can't be explained.
Chrissy (Nadia Latifi) is your typical teenager. All about her phone, her friends, and hitting that point in life where family outings are not quite what they used to be. On this particular evening of games, a night of family and friends turns deadly as something... something... enters the family home and one by one, takes them.
It's a plot we all know very well and at first, I was under the impression a deeper story was about to be told. A story revolving around an old, damaged doll. A doll with a mark. Yet by the time the credits rolled, I ended up with very little story or answers. That in itself is not a negative. The mystery, or lack of explanation, can sometimes be a plus for horror films... in my opinion anyhow. And it is true, that as a stand alone piece, Anthony DeRouen does manage to create a sinister, horror movie experience. Yet "He Takes And Returns" not only presents that unexplained story element, but also suffers from severe technical flaws. Ranging from both lack of experience - I'm assuming - and budget. The budget limitations are to be expected. This is a micro film. It's the experience issues that I'm writing about, and I'll touch up on some of them below.
The constant use of fades and incorrect use of transitions, were a major visual distraction. I see this a lot with new(er) filmmakers and honestly, like most of what I'm going to write about, it's something that needs to be pointed out and learned from experience. In this film, the fades were so numerous, I lost count after the first four or five minutes. For the first time ever in a write-up, I'm going to include a link to one of our "read it" pages that discusses transitions - and their uses. The link is here, for any who wish to have a quick read. With that done, let me move on.
"He Takes And Returns" is a pretty self contained story. You watch. You get creeped out. It's over. Until that is, you consider the "doll" in the film. DeRouen never actually explains the meaning of the doll, or it's purpose. It's just a creepy doll with no reason for being and no real connection to anything, that I could see. Or was there more? Being a curious chap, I read the description and realized the "doll" was this creatures conduit. Allowing it to return to it's victims. This was never explained in the movie. At all. If you didn't read the description, you would have no idea. This is another case, and I see this all the time, of a filmmaker assuming the viewers read the description. We don't. Well... I don't most of the time. If such an important element of a movie is not actually "in" the movie - how are we supposed to know about it? Speaking of the doll. The idea is a cool one, but opens up another can of worms. If the doll is the conduit that this creature needs... how did the monster get there in the first place? An interesting question indeed. One that I don't think was considered in the movie.
When it's all said and done, Anthony DeRouen did accomplish the task at hand. Sort of. "He Takes And Returns" does have some creepy moments. The technical issues, and experience levels, are the real culprits at play here. Believe it or not, that's a good thing. I always make it a point to explain as much as I'm able, and if not for the issues above, this would have been a great horror short! The positive aspects for DeRouen and his cast? Even with everything I wrote above, I still enjoyed this short film. It may not have been great... but is sure beats a lot of other, more budgeted indie films I've seen lately. I didn't have to watch this in multiple sittings. Believe me when I say that that counts for something. For a quick fix of creeping goodness, "He Takes And Returns" may be a little unbalanced - but is still entertaining. It may not be perfect... but perfect is boring.