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If you’re looking for a TV series terrifying enough to knock that evening glass of Tesco brand merlot out of your hands, Netflix’s original drama Requiem isn’t a bad place to start.
The story begins in London, following a gifted young cellist named Matilda (a creepy name; good call, Netflix) whose career is understandably knocked off course when her mother commits suicide in front of her. Matilda, elfin and beautiful and sporting a very Shoreditch art-mullet, launches herself into a furious quest to discover the sinister origins behind her mother’s suicide, an adventure that leads her to…Wales!
With her loyal friend and musical colleague Hal at her side, Matilda begins to uncover a dark history of child abduction and murder that has long plagued the Welsh town of Penllynith, an area of deeply entrenched miseries and prejudices. At its core, the child abductions involves a mysterious ring of New Age spiritualists who believe that they can come into contact with or see otherworldly entities and harness their power.
This is all thanks to Dr. Dee, famed astrologer of yore who’s mostly known for reading Queen Elizabeth I’s weekly horoscope, but apparently also spent hours gazing into shards of black mirror, waiting for someone on the other side to pick up. Talk about grinding for a view.
This Is Where Things Get Freaky
The show’s use of mirrors (and pretty much all reflective surfaces) to spring flashing images of smoky wraiths and rippling phantoms offers a healthy heap of jump-scares. I myself found it nearly impossible to eat so much as a chocolate button while watching Requiem without biting my knuckle instead, and found trips to the bathroom (there’s a mirror in there, you know!) scuttle-quick-or-die affairs.
Luckily, the show has other kinds of drama on offer. To sweeten the pot as it were, Matilda becomes embroiled in an extended Tinder-esque romance with a gormless but attractive Aussie who has inherited Thee Ghost House, which all of the child-murder goings-on take place. Mostly, they drink a lot of red wine and engage in agonizingly slow, identity-crisis banter. Most exciting is when, after one of their romps, Matilda pulls a Keith Moon and destroys her very expensive cello in a bout of self-loathing.
On top of all of this delightful sexy, scary action, Matilda realises that she’s adopted and, in fact, actually is one of the children who went missing from Penllynith years ago. This explains the broken memories Matilda has been saddled with her whole life, as well as her ability to talk to ghosts. I would add, probably her insatiable appetite for what I can only describe as ‘the dark side of the cello’. By this I refer to the series’ soundtrack, which is simultaneously entrancingly melodic and terrifyingly eerie, the kind of music that an actual ghost might like to rattle its chains to.
All in all, Requiem is a win for Netflix. As an American who is hopelessly addicted to shows set in the UK, this has been one of my favorites, almost a cross between Happy Valley (a little less heavy) and Skins (minimal drug use, but a fair amount of sex and lots of identity-questioning).
By Emily Yaremchuk
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