The Innocents – Netflix Original: Reinventing the Mad Scientist

Streaming platforms and horror are made for each other. The captive audience and big money give content creators unprecedented freedom. This enables unique series like The Innocents, a Netflix Original. The Innocents on their network a few days back. Here’s our review.

The Innocents starts all romantic. A young man, Harry and a woman, June decide to elope.  June’s step-father doesn’t allow her to mingle with anyone. On her 16th birthday, he’s planning to take her away to some remote island. As the two embark on a journey, June realizes that all is not normal with her, and she has a supernatural gift that’s been in her family for generations. As the series progresses, it reveals the what and the why of every character’s action.

The series has three tracks. One of June and Harry, lovestruck teenagers who are waiting to get away. The second track is of June’s mother in a remote area where a doctor is trying to find a cure for her condition. The third track is of Harry’s mother and June’s family coming to terms with their children’s sudden eloping. Of course, all tracks come to an explosive climax.

The Innocents is a good, mid-ranger. It’s a perfect weekday bingewatch. There’s little violence. There’s almost no gore. The characters have a well turned in story arc,  audiences can root for one, or several, or all. It’s the perfect oddball. Sorcha Groundsell is believable as the young woman finding her unique gift, and creates an empathy for her character. Percelle Ascott as Harry  is good too. Harry is the most difficult character to play. Percelle’s character might become the target for comedic memes, given his actions. Percelle’s dedication towards bringing Harry’s story to the audience makes it an endearing watch. Both actors portray the most difficult aspects of young love – jealousy, cold feet, indecisiveness, et al.

What sets The Innocents really apart from the other sci-fi series is the human touch it gives to the isolated treatment center. Guy Pearce, who plays the doctor, has to contend with a partner, Runa, played by Ingunn Beate Oyen, who’s growing jealous of his finagling with the younger, female patients. The awkward interactions among everything at the centre adds the required eerieness. The Innocents has a lot going on for it and audiences will lap up a second season. The climax doesn’t just hint, it almost announces that the series will have a second season. And it should. With other endearing characters like Kam and Ryan out there, this one can turns all shades exciting. This is none of those rare, untiring series that we’d want to stream all at one go, even if there were 2 seasons.

The concept is good, and has the potential to become a long standing series. Even in just the first season, several secondary characters make their entry, creating a whole new universe. Creators Simon Duric and Hania Elkington have a unwavering belief in their concept – so much so that they have three sequences where one character explains the concept to others.

For horror fans, the mad scientist concept should be enough for the admission price. Very few Bollywood or Hollywood films have tackled this concept after the initial ones like Frankenstein and the trope films of the 60s and the 70s. That the mad scientist concept is still kicking and alive in what’s essentially the post modern version of horror is good news.

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