**** The Fades (Series 1)
The horror genre is one tough nut to crack. Too grotesque and you face alienating all the normal people, but if you can’t deliver the jolts, then why bother? Most horror films over the last ten years have opted to play to their creepy fanboy base and it isn’t hard to figure out why… it’s really, really hard to make a good horror, so almost no one bothers trying (which is why we have not one, but two financially successful Human Centipede movies). Great horror flicks just don’t come around all that often (last year’s Stake Land and the Korean-revenge/thriller I Saw the Devil being amongst the few recent exceptions), so when a production comes along that gets close, it’s time to sit up and take notice.
The first season of the BBC serial The Fades might just fit the bill. It’s a series that stands the possibility of appealing to the both well-adjusted, employed folks who don’t live in their parent’s basements and the horror genre’s fan base as well. It’s a tough show to summarize, being partly a reworking of a Freaks and Geeks-styled teen angst comedy, only played out when the world’s survival hinges on a 17-year-old geek’s ability to close the door the dead (the titular Fades) are using to reenter the world of the living… and then eat them. It’s an update of the age-old Invasion of the Body Snatchers storyline, right down to the gross pods the undead morph inside and, while it probably isn’t nearly scary or graphic enough for true horror aficionados, it strikes a decent enough mood of spooky (creepy credits, nightmarish visions) and gruesome (flesh-eating zombies, a severed arm hanging from a tree, etc.). All in all, The Fades is a nicely appointed fantasy/comedy/supernatural thriller that will appeal to those seeking something of a slightly higher caliber than Being Human or True Blood and the first season contains 6 well-written hour long episodes with a nice cliffhanger ending. A second (and possibly a third) series are apparently in the pipe.
The series sports a fine pedigree as well, anchored by one of the best casts the BBC has pulled together in recent years, the very thing that keeps Being Human from being a winner. It’s written by Jack Thorne who also penned the series Skins and the excellent film This is England from a few years back and the production values are nicely put together for a series that obviously didn’t have loads of cash to work with.
It might not be horror, but it was creepy enough for me.