Netflix Series Review - Requiem (Episode 1)
Netflix seems to be heavily invested in upping their Horror/Thriller game lately, which is only a good thing for fans of the respective genres. From the effectively tense Stephen King adaptation Gerald’s Game to the quite good & genuinely creepy Euro import The Ritual, and from the Stranger Things vibe of Dark to Stranger Things itself, the company’s commitment to providing quality original programming is commendable. And perhaps it’s due to the fact that it is also an import, but at first glance Requiem appears to be another solid show that looks to deliver consistent thrills and chills. Heavily atmospheric and featuring an engaging main character, Requiem might just be horror done right…only time will tell. The intent here is to review each of the 6 episodes individually, and then wrap it all up with a final review of the series as a whole. I’d like to chronicle my thoughts as I go through the series, to see how things change (or remain the same) along the path from start to finish.
Food for thought: Are these import shows sometimes more effective because they are decidedly un-American in their delivery?
Episode 1 – The first episode does a decent job of setting the tone and establishing who some of our main characters are. It provides a few genuine moments of creep & dread up front, and then proceeds to unfold at a steady pace, offering up a few decent mysteries, while helping to establish the personalities of the main cast. And while it may not achieve the production levels of Hollywood movies, the cinematography and locations are above & beyond typical television work.
Our main character is Matilda “Tilly” Gray, a concert cellist living in London, who is prepping for an upcoming solo performance. After a shocking act leaves her bereft of family, Tilly, along with her best friend & piano accompanist Harlan "Hal" Fine, finds herself drawn into a 20 year old mystery involving a missing child and strange photographs of a remote mansion. Unable to focus on her music, and increasingly certain that something potentially sinister is going on, Tilly and Hal embark on a trip across England to try and uncover details about the missing girl. Through several twists & turns of the plot (and a few less than friendly encounters with other folks in the town), Tilly and Hal find themselves staying in the very mansion from the photographs, where strange occurrences begin to happen.
While it’s difficult to gauge a series on the first episode alone, the pilot episode of Requiem does a great job at setting a dark and mysterious tone, and is engaging enough that it draws you in. What starts out as a seemingly straightforward haunted house tale takes a few unexpected turns, seemingly answering a central question while asking a whole lot more. We’ll see if the second episode can cash in on the promise of the first.
As Tilly, actress Lydia Wilson does a commendable job of portraying a young woman who suddenly finds herself in emotional and distressing situations. She’s candid, she’s vulnerable, and there’s some past difficulty with her mother that is silently seething beneath the surface. What I like about the portrayal of Tilly is that while she’s attractive, the show makes sure to show her in unattractive situations. Unlike our “star” obsessed shows, Tilly doesn’t wake up after a rough night with perfect hair and a bright disposition. She smokes, she has dubious one-night stands, and she’s unintentionally leading her best friend on. In essence, she’s blessedly normal. Joel Fry does a decent job of playing the “perpetually in the friend zone” Hal, who is willing to do just about anything for Tilly (except help her carry her cello up several flights of stairs…total fail Hal, total fail). The rest of the cast only get brief introductions, so it’s difficult to judge them this early on, but nobody stands out as awful or miscast.
Notes/observations from the first episode:
1) Blonde herring moment at the cemetery…or is it?
2) OMG, is that Jeremy Renner’s dad?!
3) Magically disappearing cell phone in a time of emergency (she’s not wearing a bra under that dress, so where did she put it)?
4) Effective use of music (not just the soundtrack, but actual music played within the show) help heighten the tension. There’s a super cool transition from a live piece to a CD playback early on. And some cool spooky singing coming from an old reel-to-reel that is super creepy.
5) Locked blue door of doom…not a good place to be sleeping in front of…
A back shot of Tilly in panties, and prominent bare legs on display near the end of the episode.
Lydia Wilson is a great choice to lead the show; too early to gauge the rest of the cast however.
The old mansion is an effective location, and plenty of lingering camera shots set a moody tone.
Just a brief shot of blood in the beginning of the episode, and a pale body in a casket.
Great interplay with the actual score and music being played in the show, worth a follow-up.