The series makes you feel like you will experience a story like Servant, but instead, you get a run-of-a-miller thriller horror.
This review of the Netflix limited series Devil in Ohio does not contain spoilers.
It’s extraordinary for Netflix to release this series on the day Amazon launches Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power. I’m not saying that everyone will watch the mentioned series, but the streaming market is so saturated these days that timeliness is essential. Devil in Ohio, a limited series, was released with barely a finger lifted, with marketing thinner than usual. Based on the book of the same name by Daria Polatin, the series was not given a fighting chance, making it feel deliberate.
Devil in Ohio follows psychiatrist Dr. Suzanne Mathis (played by Emily Deschanel – Animal Kingdom), who shelters an intriguing cult escapee named Mae (played by Madeleine Arthur – To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before), which threatens the safety of her family. Her husband, Peter (played by Sam Jaeger – The Handmaid’s Tale), is a property developer with a failing business. The family is relatively ordinary, but their world is turned upside with the introduction of Mae. The story comes with mystery and light horror as the world of satanic symbolism, and religious imagery becomes a terrifying concept.
The premise has everything you’d expect. With a few minor twists along the way, Devil in Ohio is a relatively predictable limited series that will just stimulate the brain. The horror moments are a little too soft for what it is worth, and the twists are predictable.
Propping the series up is the teen drama tropes. While the trailer and initial premise would like you to think that this is a serious horror, it has that YA feel as the daughter of Suzanne, Jules Mathis (played by Xaria Dotson), becomes significantly involved with her personal life at school, coupled with Mae seemingly affecting her social life.
That’s not to say that the supporting characters are not interesting, but something is amiss. Scenes with Suzanne and Mae are far more interesting than the encroaching cult and the woes of the other characters. Scenes showing how Mae’s presence impacts their lives are equally as interesting. When Devil in Ohio focuses on the subplots, it feels like a formulated Netflix adaptation.
The series feels like it had more promise than what it was selling. Without familiarity with the book, it’s hard to make a clear judgment, but the genericness makes it a surface-level experience, dogged in intriguing mysteries. The series makes you feel like you will experience a story like Servant, but instead, you get a run-of-a-miller thriller horror.
But, confusingly, it’s worth a punt. Devil in Ohio is not for the trash can, and there is plenty here to enjoy in the performances, even if the characters could do with more depth. Netflix has put a lot of money into its limited series, but this is not the best of the bunch.
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