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Tuesday, 10 November 2020

REVIEW: Amazon's 'Truth Seekers' offers little new.

Stricken by the unfortunate news of a new national lockdown, sweeping the entirety of its populace back inside to their homes, rendering the high-street to nothing more than a literal ghost-town. Given the dire circumstances infecting the outside world, the thought of settling inside with a pleasant, comedic romp filled with the scares that a twelve rating could muster sounded perfect, however, two minutes into Amazon's Truth Seekers, I had already seen a disjointed sequence of horror-Esque madness peppered with the worst fire effects put to television in a long time, going so far, putting even Henry Cavil’s infamous moustache capper in 2017’a Justice league to high regards. Perfection I knew wasn’t on the table, however, I remained somewhat optimistic, given the undoubtable talent of the duo that is Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. Their last adored foray into television with the remarkable Spaced kept me wondering if they could strike gold again, this being my only driving force behind my lukewarm anticipation for the show.

The first episode titled “The haunting of Connelly's Nook” starts with this horror hook, casting its line to the audience hoping to catch bait, however, it doesn’t quite reel the line in, as the sequence is devoid of tension. The scene itself depicts a mid-twenties woman waking up to find her mother set ablaze in an inferno of barely recognisable fire, the effects are so weak it screams low-budget and deprives the scene of any suspense as it looks like a woman standing in a room with fake fire and fake fire doesn’t convey tension. This is then cut to the same mid-twenties woman waking up at a hospital bed. Unlike the prior scene, this began to reel me in as she briefly explores the abandoned hallways of this derelict hospital, she is met with cheap jump-scare of a woman covered in fatal burns. As this woman begins to maker her swift escape, more ghouls begin, juxtaposing the cheap fire effects prior, the costume design of this charred lass and her band of merry ghouls, was effective, it looked somewhat believable. 

But as the sequence truly starts to bait and reel me in, it cuts to black and this black screen to be accompanied by Nick Frost, eloquently saying “Balls”. This dynamic of horror and comedy is steadily balanced out as the episode continues. 

Gus Roberts (Nick Frost) is a reserved internet installer, who as shown by the surrounding props has a profound fascination with the supernatural. Instead of focusing on his free-time hobby, the scene acts to establish Gus and his father’s relationship, his father being wistfully played by Malcolm Mcdowell is a typically elderly sod, complaining to his son about the Stairmaster he dawns during this conversation. The jokes re adequate at best but bring the essence that the talents of Frost and Mcdowell aren’t being used to the fullest of their capabilities. Frost’s character isn’t anything new for Frost, playing the big reserved but loveable weirdo is frequent for Frost and this typical frost routine is somewhat overstated by now, his unwillingness to venture out into new roles does hinder Truth Seekers as it prompts a sense of familiarity, as does the entire first episode. 

It relies on jokes and character tropes we’ve seen countless times, for example, Samson Kayo’s character, Elton (John), provides the perspective of a younger generation, throwing around words such as “Noob” most likely to garner laughter from the younger generations, however, this just stunts the dialogue, making the jokes seem awkward and stale. On the other hand, the chemistry between Frost and Kayo is something to be applauded, as their witty exchanges make up for the weak script and flat jokes. As the episode begins to delve its hand back into the deck of horror, it pulls an unusual card, it provided a somewhat tense and eery atmosphere with the introduction of Mrs Connelly and her deviously spooky house. The last half of the episode begins to show the potential strengths of the show, putting Frost’s and Kayo’s relationship to a backdrop of a haunted house is a brilliant combination and managed to get a couple of giggles and couple hairs standing straight with the climax of the episode.

Overall it isn’t a terrible start, defiantly starts with a struggle in its first half, over-relying on the expectancy of Frost’s charisma to carry the show, but it does manage to perceiver towards the end, even providing a few mysteries left unsolved that have kept me questioning, almost looking forward to seeing how the show evolves over the next few episodes. However, if the show continues to lean on familiar jokes and familiar conventions as it did towards the start of the first episode, I can imagine myself becoming very bored, very quick as shown before Frost and Pegg have the capability to produce truly great creations and with a little more character, Truth Seekers may even stand tall with the likes of Spaced or even Shaun of the dead but that will take a lot more effort from this overall weak start.

Contributed by Arthur Millington. 

           Truth Seekers is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video. 


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