Review by C.J. Bunce
An exciting new Gothic suspense thriller has arrived in the new Netflix series Requiem. Like any great mystery–and it seems even more so in this sub-genre–you never can tell what kind of story you’re in until the very end. Clues are everywhere if you only look at what is right in front of you. Call it a psychological thriller, call it a ghost story, call it a police procedural, call it another X-Files entry, call it outright horror, Requiem is a British production that, unlike so many past British series, it’s arrived for American audiences as quickly as it premiered in England. And one of the great things about Netflix is it’s now bridging that gap of time that has so often taken British television series years to arrive in the States. We don’t know their trick but we love it. Requiem is as creepy, as atmospheric, and as chilling as anything you’re going to see this year.
Fans of the original The Watcher in the Woods will appreciate Requiem for many reasons, including getting that obligatory British estate nestled in the far-off woods so very right. Viewers familiar with the Gothic genre will find themselves transfixed, scrabbling to follow clues and guess before the final episode the true nature of the darkness in the story. The beauty of the script, acting, and setting is that you probably won’t be able to figure it all out. It’s that good. Expect a few “I didn’t see that coming” utterances and a satisfying ending. Is this just another procedural crime drama about a missing child? Something like The Missing, Thirteen, Broadchurch, Hinterlands, Shetland, or this year’s Netflix release, Collateral? Or something with a more supernatural twist like British series Marchlands, Lightfields, The Secret of Crickley Hall, or a litany of creepy ghosts, haunts, and other fears from the big screen across the decades, like Otto Preminger’s Bunny Lake is Missing, Gaslight, The Lady Vanishes, or The Woman in Black, like the film adaptations of the Daphne du Maurier novels My Cousin Rachel, The Birds, and Rebecca, or adaptations of Gothic classics Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Turn of the Screw, or Great Expectations? Maybe this is a modern horror tale wrapped in Gothic dress, like The Boy, The Ring, The Sixth Sense, The Shining, The Others, The Fog (and other John Carpenter classics), Skeleton Key, the Oscar winner Get Out, this year’s film Winchester, or Guillermo del Toro’s modern creation inspired by the classic Gothic thriller, Crimson Peak. Or maybe it only has the atmosphere of the above productions.
Virtuoso cellist Matilda Grey (Star Trek Beyond, Black Mirror, and Never Let Me Go’s Lydia Wilson) is readying a London premiere with her musical partner Hal (Game of Thrones’ Joel Fry). But her world falls apart when her mother Janice (Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams and Spaced’s Joanna Scanlan) commits suicide. At her mother’s home she finds a hidden box of secrets that reveals her own past may not be what it seems, and she and Hal find themselves trying to come to terms with Matilda’s loss in the seemingly unpronounceable Welsh town of Penllynith. Something wicked this way comes, or does it? Is everyone just caught up in an old missing persons case from years ago and the quirky lore of an old village?
Matilda and Hal seek help from locals, including a new police constable (Downton Abbey’s Clare Calbraith), her old boss, now retired (Downton Abbey’s Brendan Coyle), a psychiatric patient who once had visions of the town’s missing girl (Anastasia Hille), a childhood friend of the missing girl (Sian Reese-Williams), the missing girl’s mother (Doctor Who, Ashes to Ashes, and Black Mirror’s Claire Rushbrook) and a local antiques dealer with a bent for the supernatural (Brassed Off, Sirens, The Woman in White, Jane Eyre, and Game of Thrones’ Tara Fitzgerald). Also look for good performances from familiar British actors Darren Evans (Galavant) and Hinterlands star Richard Harrington.
By the way, when you’re finished with Requiem, go find any of the above series and movies you may have missed. They are all recommended. With a title like Requiem, you can also expect some good music, created for the series by Dominik Scherrer and Natasha Khan.
Just don’t make a sequel. We can’t get ourselves to pull the covers back to see what happens next.
An excellent mystery and thriller, Requiem is directed by Mahalia Belo from a script by Kris Mrksa and Blake Ayshford. All six episodes are streaming now on Netflix.