The Devil's Hour review: A distinctly average supernatural thriller
This Prime Video series fails to concisely pull all its puzzle pieces together and satisfy.
By: Martin Carr
Note: only the first episode of The Devil's Hour was made available to review
With a season premiere that features abstract imagery and a cavalcade of sensory assaults, the series never proves to be an easy watch. Five minutes in, Lucy (Jessica Raine) and Gideon (Peter Capaldi) are captured conversing in a blacked-out room. She is pale, bruised and defiant in the face of her interrogator who sits opposite, handcuffed yet commanding. Exposition is limited and other storytelling staples are thin on the ground, making this show almost impossible to pin down for audiences seeking context.
Creator Tom Moran (The Feed) throws in elements of The Sixth Sense early on through Lucy’s troubled son Isaac (Benjamin Chivers), while establishing her nocturnal existence and sleep deprivation as key elements in this abstract thriller. Every night, her sleep is disturbed at 3:33am, while disturbing visual distortions of future events undermine her grasp of reality. It is this narrative limbo that audiences are asked to embrace early on, as The Devil’s Hour does away with convention.
As a manager for social services, Lucy starts at breaking point and ramps up slowly to psychological implosion as episode one ticks on. Diving daily into the traumatised lives of others, Lucy can see tragedy at every turn as innocent everyday objects foreshadow murderous intent – a situation which is only exacerbated by the intrusion of dreamlike images into her reality, as walls between these worlds erode.
Operating in parallel to this are the foreboding conversations she has with Gideon, which only ever warn of further horrors but rarely offer any clues. These are always out of context, often feel jarring and frequently confuse in an attempt to intrigue audiences. Then there is the matter of DI Ravi Dhillon (Nikesh Patel) and DS Nick Holness (Alex Ferns), who are somehow linked to this tale.
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Squeamish at murder scenes but devilish with the detail, Ravi is an ideal complement to Nick who is rarely phased by anything. That their investigation into a brutal domestic murder soon crosses paths with Lucy in her capacity as social worker slowly draws this story together. Meanwhile, a local mother fears for her life, while Lucy keeps experiencing visions of a gruesome aftermath involving the woman. Body bags, bloody murder and childhood trauma all rear their ugly head in the challenging first hour of this Prime Video series, one in which Peter Capaldi only has a few opportunities to make his mark, somewhat channelling Sir Anthony Hopkins whilst giving his own chilling interpretation of a savvy serial killer.
Unfortunately, what this ambitious opener does is leave audiences with a lot of component parts but no way to put them together. This reliance on a disjointed narrative, which provides lots of visual stimulus without any degree of context, makes The Devil’s Hour hard work. There is no doubt that everyone involved commits fully to the premise, with Ben Chivers bringing a unique level of nuance to Lucy’s son Isaac.
However, the show relies too heavily on sleight of hand and a supremely ominous score, which makes it feel rather thin in terms of plot. No doubt that as The Devil’s Hour continues Capaldi will get the opportunity to leave more of an impression, but for now audiences will have to make do with brief glimpses and some loaded line readings – one of the many contributing factors which makes this show an intriguing proposition, rather than a certified watchlist essential.
The Devil’s Hour fails to concisely pull all its puzzle pieces together and satisfy. There is a sense of kitchen sink in the construction, which may make audiences thinking twice before investing valuable time in this convoluted premise. Only elevated by the conviction of those involved, this distinctly average supernatural thriller from Prime Video feels like a wasted opportunity.
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The Devil's Hour launches exclusively on Prime Video on 28th October – try Amazon Prime Video for free for 30 days.
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