I only just got round to watching this series and like many British shows it was only 6 eps so finished it in 2 evenings. I remembered the trailers when they were on and how creepy and inviting they looked, truly gripped my interest and were very well made so it’s good to finally see if the show lived up to the imagery of the trailers. This series joins my collection of creepy supernatural shows like American Horror Story as I love relocating the haunting genre to families and social groups and seeing the worlds of supernatural versus insanity and thrillers verses normal human lives combine. As also a brit i love british dramas and this one is as good as some of the other supernatural shows I’ve watched over the years such as Being Human and Hex. The series focuses on an upscale apartment block called ‘Bedlam Heights’, renovated from the structure of an abandoned mental asylum, and the strange hauntings that occur there. New arrival Jed Harper (Theo James) possesses the ability to see the ghosts, which are generally not visible to others, and receives visions of their deaths. The hauntings are generally malevolent, and it is up to Jed to determine the spirits’ motives and thwart their goals. His flatmates are his cousin, Kate (Charlotte Salt), who manages the complex; Ryan (Will Young) who is troubled by the recent violent death of his brother; and Molly (Ashley Madekwe), a childhood friend of Kate and Jed.
The show was better than I thought it would be didn’t think 6 eps was enough to flesh out the characters and the world they inhabit but by the end of the first ep you know your character types and motives. Jed is a reluctant hero type plagued by his demons and life spent in and out of mental asylums because of people not believing in his ability to see ghosts. He’s all broody most of the time and every time he gets a chance to step into the light and have a better life something conspires against him to make him miserable again. The show does at least try to find ways to show underneath his sadness and loneliness he is a good kind man that actually cares greatly for people and if it wasn’t for his fate as a ghost seeing mystery solving outcast he would have been a regular fun guy. The only thing I didn’t like about the characters is that they could never make up their mind who they fancied or liked, I’m not a romantic so nothing bores me more than love interests and love triangles when there are much more interesting things going on like dead people stalking you. So the fact that every episode someone would fancy someone else and in the case of Ryan’s character couldn’t decide if he was gay or straight did get on my nerves. As for the 2 girls Molly is a pleasant girl and I feel bad for the way she is sometimes treated and by the end I understand why she left the way she did I would have to get out of a place like that. As for Kate I hated her she’s the kind of girl I just can’t stand, playing men for her own gain, vain and selfish there is little to like about her and I found it hard to feel sorry for her when she was getting haunted and plagued by horrible visions and nightmares.
But away from the characters the show has a good atmosphere and it mixes traditional supernatural story telling with modern young adults just trying to live their lives. Another extra idea in the mix is that by living in a converted asylum are the people themselves being infected by the madness that once ran rampant here. Kate’s dreams and visions put her more and more on edge that you could question her own sanity, does insanity breed insanity, is it the environment that changes a person and inspires dark acts or was it always in the nature of that person to lose touch and do evil acts. This is reflected as you find out more about the background of the asylum and its inmates some of the original occupants where put in their not because they truly deserved to be but because it was convenient to those who they had offended. For example a serving girl who got pregnant by her master, instead of owning up to the affair has her thrown into Bedlam to have the baby causing her to go mad with grief and then she is lobotomised to silence her covering up the conspiracy. It isn’t surprising Bedlam has so many angry ghosts and it defiantly holds with the lore that those that die violent and unfulfilled deaths are imprisoned on earth not allowed to move on till they find justice or a conclusion that makes them satisfied. The ghosts of Bedlam are more than restless they are full of hate and evil now that their cells are the homes of happy families, couples and people they want to make sure these inhabitants feel the pain and sorrow they feel.
The series is stylishly done though as a horror nerd it wasn’t creepy enough to scare me but it has great potential to actually be very scary. The ghosts fade in and out, watch from secluded corners and stalk characters vigorously. The ghosts leave creepy messages sketched onto walls, petals scattered on floors and horrific drawings on children’s bedrooms. The show is well filmed part surreal in its imagery and harsh in it open portrayal of hauntings, Jed’s visions are chaotic and violent, Kate’s dreams bright and harsh but terrifying. The show had a decent budget behind it so it looks realistic and a very artistic side as well, Kate drowning in the bath tub sinking further into an abyss, a dark pool of water waiting for someone to break the surface and reach far enough inside to reach her. This also reflects her as a character, her shell of vanity and cruelty hides the fact she is lost and scarred, living up to the pressures of her father, scarred of her feelings and not wanting to get close to people causing her to drown in her own self-imposed pit. Kate’s dreams are one of the most disturbing scenes of the series, she is lost and alone wearing nothing but her nightdress, running the corridors of Bedlam that she should know but somehow are unfamiliar to her and are cold and empty. These scenes are filmed very brightly and slowly she realised she’s not alone but a body of a woman wearing a cloth bag over her head is lying in wait for her causing her more grief and unsettling us in these surreal images.
It is a shame that after 6 eps the series wasn’t renewed as there was so much more to tell and the story was not finished but for a good little supernatural series this is very much worth it.
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