By Eric Campos | April 8, 2003

Forget all of the boogeymen of cinema past and present. The scariest threat to mankind is featured here in “Return to Innocence,” and it could happen to any one of us at any time…especially if you take to hanging about McDonald’s Playlands and schoolyards. Here, the threat is a young boy who accuses an innocent man of sexual molestation.
After his mother is arrested for making him star in her homemade child porn videos, Tommy Jackson finds himself living at a counseling center called New Horizons where his life starts to straighten out a bit. One weekend, however, Tommy is allowed to leave the center and spend it with one of his counselors, Chris. Something bizarre happens and Chris calls up Glen, the director of New Horizons and a reputable therapist, to come pick up Tommy before the weekend is over, as things don’t appear to be working out. Upon his picking up Tommy, Glen sees that the 13-year-old boy isn’t acting right, so he decides to approach Chris about what exactly happened over the weekend. Chris finally breaks down and admits to having a sexual encounter with Tommy that the boy initiated. Chris tells Glen that everything was fine at first, but that he got nervous towards the end and instructed Tommy that he was not to tell anyone what had happened. He then left the boy alone, who at that point was crying and confused. Glen notifies Chris of his dismissal and then moves on to talk to Tommy, who denies the encounter at first, but then admits to the entire thing, still confused about why Chris had freaked out on him. Glen does his best to console the boy and offers to spend time with him outside of the center, even bringing him back to his own home. This is when the word comes in that Chris is in the hospital due to a reckless accident. Glen and Tommy arrive at Chris’ side, just in time for Glen to promise that he wouldn’t tell anyone (including Chris’ wife) about what happened with Tommy and for Tommy and Chris to reconcile, right before he dies. Believing that it’s Glen’s fault that Chris is dead, Tommy decides to wrongfully accuse the New Horizons director of sexual molesting him. From here on in, Glen finds his life turned upside down as he tries to shake free from this horrible accusation, as well as trying to avoid going to prison, all the while keeping Chris’ secret.
Sounds a bit like a soap opera, doesn’t it? There’s plenty of superdrama here for an entire season of your soap of choice. The way “Return to Innocence” is shot (in black and white video) and the way it’s acted, are also very reminiscent of a soap opera production. But that doesn’t change the fact that this is definitely a very frightening story that I wouldn’t wish to happen to my worst enemy. “Return to Innocence” will have you avoiding children like you avoid a good a*s kicking.

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