From TV Review

Plot: From unravels the mystery of a nightmarish town that traps all those who enter. As the unwilling residents fight to keep a sense of normalcy and search for a way out, they must also survive the threats of the surrounding forest – including the terrifying creatures that come out when the sun goes down. 

Review: When Lost premiered back in 2004, it immediately changed the landscape of serial storytelling on television. Over six seasons, the Damon Lindelof/Carlton Cuse created series built a massive mythology blending science fiction and primetime drama with a huge ensemble cast. Dozens of series tried to replicate the Lost formula and failed. Few series have been able to capture the magic since, especially genre offerings. The latest attempt is From. With a simple, vague title and the talents of Lost veteran director Jack Bender, Lost producer Jeff Pinkner, and Avengers: Endgame filmmakers Joe and Anthony Russo, From manages to evoke the mystery of Lost over its opening episodes along with a big cast ready to build a fanbase. The result comes close to setting up a worthy successor that is scarier than Lost but not quite as engrossing.

From draws inspiration from many J.J. Abrams series and their mystery box concepts. The series opens, without any sort of explanation, with a town besieged by monsters. Why they exist and how to combat them is slowly shared over the four episodes made available for this review, but never directly. We see them act and the results are vicious, bloody, and deadly. We begin to learn the rules as newcomers arrive in town and also learn how the other townspeople arrived in a similar manner. It is interesting, in a Twilight Zone kind of way, how people can enter the town but cannot leave (the roads loop back on themselves inexplicably). There are also rules, in an M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village kind of way, that must be followed lest the monsters will feast on their prey. From owes a great debt to countless shows and stories that came before it and feel more homage than derivative, which is a great benefit in the premiere episode. It is the episodes that follow where the show has some issues.

For the first two episodes, the mysterious monsters and how to avoid them are the central plot element. Showrunner John Griffin and director Jack Bender do a solid job of making the horror palpable both in the form of grotesque effects as well as more subtle noises and off-screen threats. Mixed within these moments are multiple scenes of exposition that explain almost nothing. It is frustrating as a viewer to try and figure out what the characters are talking about without knowing ourselves. From requires a solid amount of dedication to go along with what is happening so that you can enjoy the series. But, it becomes apparent quickly that the characters we assume know what is going on in fact don’t know themselves.

Like Lost, From has a solid premiere episode that establishes a tone early but over the next three episodes, the momentum begins to stall. We get glimpses of the ghostly monsters and a lot of questions, but not many answers. All of the residents of the town were stranded under similar circumstances and have taken on new roles. There is a priest, an EMT, a father and son, and many more characters of varying levels of trustworthiness. Like any number of similar ensembles from The Mist to The Walking Dead, some of these characters are worth investing in while others you won’t mind seeing killed off. That being said, our gateway into this story is split pretty evenly between Sheriff Boyd Stevens (Harold Perrineau) who tries to maintain order amongst the townsfolk and the Matthews clan who stumble into town and must deal with the sudden threat. Jim (Eion Bailey) and Tabitha (Catalina Sandino Moreno) and their kids must band together under the unusual town rules and this allows us to learn how to survive the nightly incursions. Perrineau, a Lost veteran, is excellent in a long-overdue lead role and Sandino Moreno is the most relatable character in the entire cast.

For a season that consists of ten episodes, the fact that so little happens over the first four is concerning for the long-term viability of this series. There is a solid body count that begins with the very first episode but then so much talking that just serves to develop characters that we really don’t know enough about. The writing staff could have utilized flash forwards or flashbacks to flesh out the ensemble, but instead, these characters relate their backstories via dialogue. It takes up running time each episode and maybe the weakest part of the story. When From is scary it is at its best and there are some solid moments of lingering dread in each episode. There just doesn’t seem to be enough forward momentum to support it.

From wants desperately to be Lost meets Stephen King and gets pretty close thanks to an intriguing mystery that is not explained from the outset. There is gore and truly scary moments along with solid acting from Harold Perrineau and Catalina Sandino Moreno that make it easier to go along for the ride. Being on Epix, there is a high chance that not enough people will get the chance to check this series out. I hope they do because I would love to find out what the hell is really going on and how these characters will get away. From definitely is worthy of a multi-season run but needs to create an overall ensemble that is as interesting as the Perrineau and Moreno.

From premieres on tonight on Epix.





About the Author

5916 Articles Published

Alex Maidy has been a editor, columnist, and critic since 2012. A Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic and a member of Chicago Indie Critics, Alex has been's primary TV critic and ran columns including Top Ten and The UnPopular Opinion. When not riling up fans with his hot takes, Alex is an avid reader and aspiring novelist.