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TV Review: The Innocents

The Innocents, The Innocents TV Review, TV Review, Netflix, Guy Pearce, Romance, Teen, Supernatural

SYNOPSIS: When teenagers Harry and June run away from their repressive families to be together, they’re derailed by an extraordinary discovery - June’s ability to shape-shift. As the star-crossed lovers struggle to control this strange new power, a mysterious professor reveals that June is not alone: there are more shifters out there like her, and he promises to cure June and reunite her with the mother who deserted her three years ago. But as their journey becomes increasingly fraught with danger, Harry and June's love for each other is tested to breaking point and they're faced with a choice: keep their innocent dream alive, or embrace that their lives have changed and risk everything.

The Innocents, The Innocents TV Review, TV Review, Netflix, Guy Pearce, Romance, Teen, Supernatural

REVIEW: In the last few years, Netflix has released an insane number of new series. Some have been great while others have been mediocre, but outside of the highly marketed series like Stranger Things, House of Cards, and Orange is the New Black, a lot of Netflix originals slider under the radar. One such series is the new supernatural drama The Innocents. Debuting August 24th, this eight episode British series is aimed squarely at the same audiences that watch teen series on Freeform or the TWILIGHT films. The difference is that The Innocents is actually well acted, well scripted, and well directed. It may not be the breakout hit that other Netflix series have turned out to be, but it definitely has the potential to win some fans with a very familiar story told in an unfamiliar way.

The Innocents will be a series that adults will not roll their eyes at, either. In fact, the series is surprisingly subtle which is not a word I commonly use when thinking of teen films. Unlike TWILIGHT, the supernatural elements of this series are only used sparingly and when necessary. As you could tell from the trailer, the powers the characters possess in this drama is the ability to shape-shift. While we do see this change happen on screen, it is only completely visible a few times with editing and camera tricks used to conceal it the rest of the time. There are still countless cool shots where we see the person's original face in reflective surfaces. To explain more about how this ability works or why it manifests would be a spoiler for the back half of the season and at only eight episodes, this is an easy binge. 

Well, easy may be an over-simplifcation. Yes, it is a short run of episodes, but every entry in the first season of The Innocents is crammed with dialogue and exposition. There is not a lot of action to speak of which could bore some younger viewers, but the actors are all top notch which helps make the near-constant talking bearable. Guy Pearce is the most recognizable face here, playing the scientist whose research at a Norweigan compound known as the Sanctum may hold the answers to the abiliteis developing in young June (Sorcha Groundsell). While Pearce's Dr. Halvorson and henchmen such as Steiner (Jóhannes Hauker Jóhannesson of ATOMIC BLONDE and ALPHA) are trying to find June, her father John (Sam Hazeldine) is also trying to locate her after she escaped from home. A lot of The Innocents is set up as a chase with these two very different groups both hunting for June.

The crux of the story is the relationship between June and Harry (Percelle Ascott). At the start of the series, these star-crossed lovers are planning to run away with each other once June turns 16 and that is when all hell breaks loose. There is a great chemistry between Ascott and Groundsell that is helped by the fact that they actually look their age and act like young people stuck in an unbelievable situation. The planning, execution, and follow through on their escape together feels like it could really happen so when there is a wrench thrown into the works in the form of June's abilities, it doesn't feel disingenuine. The slow burn nature of the series also helps drive home the isolation and helplessness of what is going on. June's abilities are also a metaphor for puberty (as most of the "changes" young people go through in these stories) but it works here thanks to the more grounded visual approach to the tale.

The Innocents, The Innocents TV Review, TV Review, Netflix, Guy Pearce, Romance, Teen, Supernatural

Series creators Hania Elkington and Simon Duric deserve a lot of credit for coming up with something unique in a genre dominated by the same old stories. Directors Farren Blackburn (Netflix's Daredevil and Iron Fist) and Jamie Donoughue (The Last Kingdom) use the location shooting done in England and Norway to make the landscape a part of the story. Shot in dark grays and blues, there is not a lot of levity to the material which is played dead seriously. I think the first episode may have a total of four or five smiles which is a very low number for a supposedly romantic story. Still, the tone works and is helped by a great soundtrack featuring some well curated electronic and pop songs coupled with a sparse score from Carly Paradis.

I enjoyed The Innocents for what it was and that is better than I expected from it. The story is fairly easy to follow and the stakes do earn some investment if you watch the whole series. It will take you some time to ramp up for the first half but if you can stick with the series for three or four episodes, you will find it time well spent. I do think the show could have used a little more energy and light as it feels very brooding most of the time. This is not a late night binge as you could find yourself falling asleep, but if you have time to kill and want to check out something dramatic, romantic, supernatural, and different, this will work for you.

The Innocents premieres August 24th on Netflix.

Source: JoBlo.com

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