Top critical review
5 people found this helpful
Promising but dissapointingly lacking in any coherant substance
on 10 August 2015
I'm disappointed to reflect on what started as a really intriguing and promising series but progressively lost it's way and ended up feeling empty and a case of style over substance.
I suppose the warning signs were there. The philosophising and sensory quirks of Rust were what appealed most to me at first. They were well-written and thoughtful and I loved seeing these unsentimental views expressed, and the many stories we tell ourselves about life to create meaning examined. They gradually indicated that this series probably wasn't going to be all that clear cut however. I don't mind a dense drama, nor one that is surreal and open-ended. I like the concentration they require and the rewards they can give with so many layers and space to put your own interpretation on things. This threatened to be a moody, disturbing experience but ended up disappearing up itself as the affective intercutting of time periods and the consistency and quality of the writing of the characters fell away. It just seemed like there wasn't much there beneath it all.
Woody Harrelson's Marty felt one-dimensional in his blatant hypocrisy and almost laughably masculine rages, but he brings a warmth to his roles which carried the character and there were elements of his story that I ended up liking more as Rust felt more and more inauthentic and became a parody of himself, even a Christ like figure towards the end. Their conversations were one of the more entertaining elements of the series and there was a warmth to their relationship and a playful double act that worked well sometimes but just felt wrong and inconsistent at other times with Marty going from being a thoughtful foil to Rust one minute, to a buffoon the next, and Rust going from being aloof and independent, to friendly and needy. I just didn't buy the character progression, it felt disjointed and didn't feel like an authentic response to the events of the plot.
The moody suspense that was so effective at times was let down buy the almost laughable pained "Noooooooo" responses to the revelations of the abuse that took place. I got the feeling this was supposed to instill terror and chills but it would have been far more effective with a close up of a more restrained and subtle discomfort and torment that I imagine would be the response to seeing such a thing.
I think this series had some great elements but it needed better writing and more tying down of the characters to a coherent story with detail that made sense and came together more in a rewarding way. Was I alone in wanting more explanation of how the satanic elements originated and the symbolism used? It ended up feeling like cheap gimmicks to create terror, in the way that satanic abuse has been widely exaggerated in real life cases by the media and police.
What can't be argued with, in my opinion, is that it's beautifully shot and very atmospheric. Certain shots stayed with me, notably the ending of one episode where a possible 'monster' of the human variety that the characters would soon run into, was tantalisingly glimpsed from a distance and faded out in freeze frame.