Halloween-O-Meter: Swamp Thing
Halloween-O-Meter: Swamp Thing (2019)
Based on the DC Comics created by Len Wein and Bernie Wrightson, Swamp Thing follows Abby Arcane, a CDC disease expert who is sent to study a strange outbreak in her home town of Marais, Louisiana. The series premiered late May, 2019, to predominately positive reviews, currently holding a 95% critic score on Rotten Tomatoes. The series was then cancelled after the first episode aired due to the high production cost.
Whether or not Swamp Thing gets picked up, it’s a pretty solid first season! Sure its got problems, but even if you haven’t watched any of the live action DC series (like I haven’t), you can get into this horror-style superhero series pretty easily, as the entire show is now only ten episodes.
Right off the bat, this series impressed me with its visual style. The cinematography is pretty sharp, but even more impressive are the effects. Swamp Thing rarely holds back, often leading to wonderfully horrifying moments that were too gross to look away from! While the first episode is a bit more grotesque than the rest of the series, I was in constant awe of the blend of practical effects work and CGI. I am assuming this credit goes at least somewhat to horror producer James Wan.
The rest of the show did honestly fall second to the effects for me. The pacing is pretty good throughout, the overall story beats work fairly well, and the characters are all mostly compelling in one way or another. Sure there are some very dislikable characters, but the performances help clarify that you aren’t exactly supposed to like them. For example, if you take your mad scientist type and give him a sympathetic motivation, you may get some mixed feelings. Cast Kevin Durand and your problems are solved! (Even though Will Patton was probably my favorite performance in the series.)
Getting back to the story, Swamp Thing has some very interesting storylines. Some tie right in to the titular character and some serve the larger story at work. Either way that didn’t keep me from losing interest, as the focus of the series stays on topics like pollution or inhuman scientific research instead of turning into a typical superhero story. This kept the series interesting for me, despite the show featuring a potential pandemic. Fun times.
As much as I liked it, there was plenty I found fault with. Some of the performances were a little more lacking than others, and I think that has to do with the characters. A few supporting characters simply went nowhere by the end of the first season. This was probably part of a longer-term plan, but maybe wrap a few things up more nicely? Some of the character choices also seemed to exist to keep the story going.
What was worse for me was the lighting, which seemed to be consistently dark. Perhaps this was to help hide the effects better, but dang this show is an eye strain! Every single scene feels like it takes place at night, to the point where some of them don’t even make sense. Toss in a very dull score full of the same low-tone rumbling and you get- well let’s just say I fell asleep more than a few times trying to get through this. Rachel didn’t have this problem though, so maybe it’s just me?
I mean either way it’s not a bad show. I enjoyed it! I liked the protagonist Abby Arcane, and the series keeps its focus in check for most of the show. Every once in a while it does get sidetracked, and this leads to loose ends. But if HBO picks it up that will solve that problem. Honestly, it is worth watching for the effects alone. The quality (night lighting aside) is so phenomenal that I wanted to watch a few scenes over and over just to figure out how they did it! And of course it doesn’t hurt that it’s a decent show too. Call me a sucker for small-scale plots, but I had a good time with this one! 7/10.
Okay so this might have been an excuse not to review another Halloween film. But it is certainly a horror series! (I mean early on at least.) But hey, maybe it’s the perfect Halloween watch for superhero fans or anyone who likes homages to 80s sci-fi horror! I mean you’ve got some creativity here for sure. Oh yeah there is the whole pandemic thing… Well hey it’s not a bad Halloween watch, just maybe not THIS Halloween if you want to avoid the reminder that the world is still dealing with some issues… I think I can only give Swamp Thing 2 out of 5 Tiny Green Mucus Plants. For now anyway…
So Swamp Thing? Have you seen it? What do you think? And what is your favorite superhero-horror genre crossover? However you interprit that questuon, be sure to leave a like or a comment below and let us know! And if you liked this review and you want to read more, let us know what you’d like us to review on the Halloween-O-Meter next!
-review by Ryan Prince