Helstrom season 1 review – a murky, often clunky stand-alone superhero series

October 15, 2020
Daniel Hart 0
Hulu, TV Reviews
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Helstrom is worth the watch and while it does not have the immediacy of something like The Boys, it’s a worthwhile story for those missing their Marvel injections this year.

This review of Hulu’s Helstrom season 1 contains no spoilers. The standalone MCU series will be released on the streaming service on October 16, 2020.

We will be recapping every episode — check out the archive. 

After a refreshing The Umbrella Academy for Netflix and a weekly, explosive The Boys for Amazon, it was wise for Hulu to avoid the storm and conflicts by releasing Helstrom in the depths of horror month. According to sources, this Hulu series is a standalone MCU series that is separated from the usual shenanigans; I’m not sure what the point is of this standalone concept but I’m sure a comic guru can give me the lowdown on canon and politics. Regardless, we were treated to another area of the Universe thus highlighting the opportunities streaming services bring.

It’s evident that Helstrom is a series that takes trauma seriously — both characters, Ana and Daimon Helstrom, who are siblings, present their world with a murky outlook coupled with cynicism and off-the-cuff remarks. In one of the very first scenes, Daimon participates in an exorcism and immediately declares it a fake, embarrassing a young boy to his parents in the process. The siblings are characters that are difficult to pin down due to their complicated past with their mysterious and violent parents.

Helstorm opts for a murky tone for the series, taking it away from the usual Marvel lighter approach (DC fans will be loving this) and is closer to the likes of Luke Cage in terms of mood. It works because the series fancies itself as a superhero horror in certain aspects, planting a few jumpscares to truly immerse the audience into the story.

Unfortunately, Hulu’s Helstrom does suffer from clunkiness — the script wants to be as vague as possible for the viewer; it relies on unnamed characters and events rather than specifically referencing what’s happening. The series is attempting to remove heavy exposition but it ends up trying to be too clever and by the time you reach the fourth chapter, it needs exposition to keep plodding along. There is a lot of “they are coming”-style dialogue and it burdens a potentially great story.

But Helstrom season 1 does pass the test — the three leads Tom Austen, Ariana Guerra, and Sydney Lemmon fare well with their characters; some of the earlier chapters produce hammy performances but once the characters bed in, it’s easy for the audience to understand certain quirks and traits. And with it being horror month, Helstrom picks the right audience; it has horror elements wedged within superhero tropes that naturally work.

Helstrom is worth the watch and while it does not give the immediate watch factor like The Boys, it’s a worthwhile story for those missing their Marvel injections this year.

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