Teenage hormones + supernatural powers + undead monsters = hit television series. This unstoppable formula has been proven to be eaten up by American audiences (Buffy, Teen Wolf, True Blood, The Secret Circle…the list goes on). Our friends across the pond must have similar taste, because last fall, BBC launched its new series, The Fades, about a hormonal teenage boy who sees dead people. Or rather, undead dead people, who eventually morph into a dementor/I Am Legend zombie hybrid.
The first episode graces American screens tonight. Though perhaps coming from an overdone premise, creator Jack Thorne (Skins) does a good job of keeping it fresh, entertaining, and frightening.
The opening scene involves a typical blonde-woman-in-distress versus monster situation. But as the show progresses, viewers realize that this show has more meat than just horror movie stereotypes. 17-year-old Paul (played by the awkwardly likable Iain De Caestecker) and his amateur horror filmmaker friend Mac (Daniel Kaluuya) exchange witty one-liners while revealing just the right amount of teenage angst. (At one point, the duo are trapped in a stall of the girls’ bathroom. Both muffle giggles as their neighbor’s flatulence. “There’s the female mystique, fucked, then,” Paul says. “Sadly, that might have been the most sexual experience of my entire life,” Mac responds.) This setup is reminiscent of slasher classics like Scream and the newer Super 8, in which a teen film buff becomes embroiled in real life horrors.
Thorne has you hooked from the beginning, throwing you into a dark, intensely creepy abyss filled with super-scary monsters. We meet Paul and Mac hunting around for movie props inside of an abandoned shopping mall. Separated, Paul tumbles down an escalator and finds out what happened to that hapless blonde we see in the opening scene.
The next ten minutes are terrifying: a creature (one of the Fades) races after the wounded woman, Sarah (Natalie Dormer), carried by her companion, Neil (Johnny Harris). Paul secretly follows watching as the Fade slurps something out of Neil’s eyeball, dementor style. Yum.
Later, the show expertly cuts between scenes of Paul and Mac strolling along in the sun and Neil’s nasty eyeball operation, performed by friend and fellow Fade hunter Helen (Daniela Nardini).
We soon realize that Paul sees dead people (followed by a conversation about how Bruce Willis doesn’t know he’s dead in The Sixth Sense… oops, spoiler alert). Neil becomes something of a mentor for Paul and shows him where dead people hang out, and soon after we find out that when people die, they either ascend or become trapped on earth, becoming Fades. In the beginning, the Fades are more like The Walking Dead‘s Walkers: slow-moving but not bloodthirsty and way easier to kill (walking through them turns them to ash). But the longer they’re here, the more pissed they get…
The end of the show leaves you thirsting for more, in a good way. Sarah, now dead, doesn’t ascend. A really icky Fade eats Helen (more than just her eyeball). Paul has a seizure imagining his own death and a world covered in ashes. Aaaaand cut.
Unlike some of the other supernatural teen shows, The Fades holds up its end of the bargain, veering away from cheap tricks and low quality content. In all, it promises to provide ongoing entertainment and intrigue with a strong cast, dialogue and story.
Next week, expect to learn more about Fade hunting with a heavy sprinkling of awkward teen encounters.
- Teen angst
- Paul’s awkward conversation with his crush
- Eyeball-licking Fades
“Mum, I’m not your little kid anymore. OK? I’m not your boy. I’m trying to be a man.” –Paul
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Written by Alison Kjeldgaard (@tangograms)
Alison Kjeldgaard is an aspiring editor, avid film viewer, and obsessed tango dancer. She graduated in 2009 with two journalism internships under her belt, an English Literature degree, and a national economic crisis. Despite this, Alison has paid the bills working odd jobs and taking every chance she can to… More »
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