You let me down, mini-binge

Main Cast: Lydia Wilson, Joel Fry

Creator: Kris Mrksa

I do love a good mini-binge. Knowing something only has six episodes gives me the warm fuzzy feeling of knowing everything will be resolved, no cliff-hanger endings, no loose ends. At least, that’s how it’s supposed to be. Yeah, I’m looking at you, Requiem!

Requiem is a British mini-series set in Wales, in which there is mystery and suspense and supernatural weirdness. I love all of those things, so obviously I had to watch it! It starts out strong with two people killing themselves under some sort of supernatural spell. The daughter of one of these poor souls is our main character, Matilda (Lydia Wilson). Matilda is a highly sought after young cellist with a bright future. After her mother Janice (Joanna Scanlan) does away with herself in a gruesome manner, the grieving Matilda finds some curious memorabilia amongst her late mother’s belongings. Curiosity leads her and her friend Hal (Joel Fry) to a small town in Wales that 23 years past suffered the mysterious disappearance of a young girl. Janice had pictures of the girl’s mother. The other person who committed suicide lives in that village. There’s something unseemly afoot.

Requiem does a number of things right. It gets rolling quickly – we know there was something unnatural about those suicides – and the pace is pretty steady through the six episodes. Matilda at first is quite sympathetic, grieving and finding herself adrift without a family, and with increasing episodes of lost time and other strangeness. Also, Hal. He’s wonderful and helpful and it is his character that drives quite a bit of the narrative in the first few episodes. The setting is also wonderful – lovely but creepy, exactly as it should be. And it is really scary in places – a few jump scares, but mostly delicious atmospheric creepiness.

However, Requiem also sadly falls short in some key areas. As the plot thickens, Matilda becomes less likeable. Her relentless drive to find her truth is hurting people and she’s fine with that – and we don’t really get a good sense why that is. The peripheral characters – the missing girl’s mother and father, a stranger from Australia, an antiques dealer, a pub owner and his daughter – all start out as interesting and we want to know more about them. Unfortunately, only the husband of the missing girl’s mother has his story fleshed out and it has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot and is arguably the least interesting part of the entire series. The rest are or were vaguely involved in Matilda’s mystery in one or more ways, but we don’t really ever learn how or why. And that, my binge loving friends, is really frustrating.

That is the crux of what I didn’t like about Requiem. It’s more of a sketch than a drawing – filled with holes and glossed over plot lines. It’s definitely interesting and creepy, but as we approach the end, we realize that there is more atmosphere than substance to this story. And we aren’t going to be satisfied at all after our six hour binge. It’s sad because the series has so much potential at the beginning and wastes it all by the end of episode six. 2 stars and no recommendation for Requiem – there’s just too much good TV out there to waste your time on this one. If you decide you want to see for yourself, it’s currently streaming on Netflix, or if you must buy it, available as a Region 2 DVD.

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