An anthology TV show about the supernatural, featuring stories ranging from a child murderer to a haunted house.
In the following review I will sound like a child of the modern era, who can't enjoy something unless it's excessive in action and gore. This is not the case - I had not expected much from the show in terms of effects or any of that to start with, except an atmospheric thrill ride. This was not the case with "Chiller". Let me tell you why, by going through the episodes:
The series starts off with something other than a bang. "Prophecy" is a bit like "Sole Survivor" and the later "Final Destination", except that no one dies early on. The story here is that a group of friends go to the basement of a London café for a little bit of fun with a Ouija board (or similar to an Ouija board). They then hear something about a prophecy - and sure enough, a few years later the group starts dying from accidents. It's not the most exciting story, especially since the little action it offers is usually cutting away just when something will happen. It's not bad, but it's hard to be excited over something that feels forced, repetitive and not at all effective, which is the biggest problem with "Prophecy". It doesn't do much, none of it is new (nor was it back when the series was made in 1995) and you can just tell that it was produced for TV: the place where mediocrity rules all.
Thanks, "Men Behaving Badly", for making it impossible for me to take Martin Clunes seriously (I never watched "Doc Martin" - my interest in TV shows remains in comedy). That is, until I see him in the episode "Toby", where he and his wife lost their unborn child in an accident, and Martin Clunes/Ray spends way too much time saying things in the veins of "Our son won't ever grow up, he is dead!" whenever his wife is talking about their child. Way too be cheerful, Ray! Let your wife grieve for a bit, will ya? Seriously though, this episode is filled with people with snarky remarks and attitude towards Louise, and I have no idea why! Even her doctor is being sarcastic when she finds out she's pregnant again! Okay, so this episode is about a couple who lost their unborn baby in an accident that left the woman in a coma. When she's up and about again, she can't help but think about the "what-ifs" - such as what would her son be like growing up? Soon she finds herself pregnant again... but ultra sound shows that there is no baby. But what is growing in her belly then? A much more interesting episode overall than "Prophecy", and quite sad at times. Though not the best episode, it's not the worst.
"Here Comes The Mirror Man" brings on some classic gothic aesthetics, reminding us that UK does have some of the most appropriate locations for horror. A social worker has taken over the case after someone who died. The person she is supposed to look after is someone who has gone missing, and trails lead her to an old, abandoned mansion where a caretaker lives. There's no great mystery about the where-abouts of the man, but we are curious about what will bring on the horror of this story: who is this man and what happened to her predecessor? At times I found myself deeply invested in this episode, but then occasionally it slips out of my hands, which seems to be a re-occuring event in this show.
- Sophie! Sophie! There's a crow in the room!
Yes, next up is the haunted house episode "The Man Who Didn't Believe In Ghosts". The episode has a really solid start where a man, whose job is to prove that there are no ghosts, is a guest on a TV show. He shows the audience how ghosts are just illusions. When he later moves into a large house, it seems like maybe there are ghosts after all! Oh no! Yes, that's exactly it. Or is it? It's my favorite episode of the show, and I think the atmosphere is solid for this kind of a ghost story. It keeps with the subtle and the drama of the other episodes, but still comes off as the scarier one. It's rare for characters in haunted house movies to have good reasons for staying in the house even when they think something is up - but this one actually has a great, believable reason: someone who professionally has a disbelief in ghosts could be destroyed if he moved because he suspected a ghost. Imagine if other movies used such logic? Won't happen. This one gained some respect from me for it, though. Some cheesiness and not enough ghost activity keeps this at "decent" instead of "great", and being my favorite episode of the show I am sure that gives you an idea of what I think?
"Number Six" is episode five - how trippy is that!? Not at all, actually. It's just the title of the episode, you moron. "Number Six" is about a child killer who seems to be killing whenever the moon is full. Or actually, it's about the investigation and search for the murderer. After a chilling opening, we're quickly thrown back into crime/drama and not-so-horror show that is "Chiller". As excited as I am whenever the full moon is mentioned in horror, as I hope for werewolves (yes, every time - stupid me), I just couldn't believe something like that would be present in a show like this. Of course it wasn't, and they never lead that on except for the full moon part - I'm just stupid like that. Either way, it's a top 3 episode for me, but it's hard to stay optimistic when the show has been so formulaic for 4 previous episodes, and now continuing the same path with the last one.
"Chiller" has been a general disappointment, with only a few highlights. The show suffers from being more a drama than it is horror. It would be fine if I didn't expect a horror show - even the opening credits show more horror than the entire show does. No doubt, it is my expectations that lead me to dislike "Chiller". It's not that it's a terrible show, but it's cheesy, consists mostly of accidents, has very little in terms of scares and suspense, and focuses more on smaller mysteries. It's everything I dislike from horror TV shows, as I grew up trying to avoid the bad ones (which always lead me straight back to great ones like "Tales From the Crypt"). "Chiller" has an audience, but I'm not part of that crowd. It is, however, fucking fantastic of Synapse to put this out, and it's a really nice set.