There is probably a valid reason to explore the recent return of the slasher genre. Somewhere, somebody is writing a learned essay on the reasons why the character Chucky is back, this time on TV and why one of the most beloved and best-known Young Adult novels – I Know What You Did Last Summer – which became a slasher movie franchise, has been rebooted, updated and turned into a prestige-TV series.
In the meantime, let’s just postulate that the main reason for these reboots is to put the core story into an emphatically contemporary context. The inspiring question is this: what if a familiar thriller story about young people included social media and all the narcissism that comes with that?
I Know What You Did Last Summer (streams on Amazon Prime Video from Friday) amounts to a fascinating concoction in this new redo. Yes, young, beautiful people just a year out of high school are targeted by a mysterious killer in revenge for crimes they committed the previous summer. But the gore is mostly kept as a suggestion. It’s not full-frontal; the sex sometimes is. Instead, the series (four episodes now, then one weekly for a total of eight) dwells long and hard on the nature of “self.” No seriously, it does. It opens with a long monologue about “The faces we put on, the faces we want other people to see.”
The speaker is Lennon (Madison Iseman), back in Hawaii after her first year in college. She’s unhappy. Everybody around her is, including her dad (Bill Heck) and pals Margot (Brianne Tju), Riley (Ashley Moore), Dylan (Ezekiel Goodman) and Johnny (Sebastian Amoruso). The unhappiness is rooted in unease about that fatal car accident after their graduation-night party, a year before. Somebody died. Now they must piece together who knew about it and who is stalking them. The twist here, which cannot be revealed or Amazon Prime Video will unleash hell, is an interesting one. Primarily it involves what happened at that party. There was the usual moping over boyfriends and girlfriends but there was a particular frisson to the way Lennon and her twin sister Alison (also played by Iseman) interacted. That’s another thing the series plays with – can identical twins be as different as chalk and cheese?
The series is not shallow but neither is it top-notch. It’s recommended if you’re familiar with the genre and the original movie from 1997, and its sequels. Also, if you’re curious about the twins theme. It is flabbergasting at times.
Also airing/streaming this weekend
A Suitable Boy (Sunday, CBC, 9 p.m.) comes to conventional TV after streaming on Acorn. The miniseries, based on Vikram Seth’s epic novel, is about love, religion, and national identity in India as the country finds its own way after liberation from British rule.
In 1951 in a fictional Indian city, 19-year-old Lata Mehra (Tanya Maniktala) is curious, smart and wondering where life will take her. Her widowed mother Rupa (Mahira Kakkar) believes she controls Lata’s fate and wants her married to someone suitable. Directed by Mira Nair and adapted by veteran Andrew Davies, the series cuts the sprawling novel to the bone but anchors it in the core families whose lives become part of Lata’s story. It looks gorgeous and treads lightly but not idly on themes of love, freedom, family and matriarchal power.
Baptiste (Sunday, PBS, 10 p.m. on Masterpiece) is the second season of the spinoff from The Missing, featuring retired detective Julien Baptiste (Tcheky Karyo). Here he is summoned to Budapest by the British Ambassador to Hungary (Fiona Shaw), whose husband and sons have gone missing. There’s a world-weary melancholy drenching everything and a tincture of subtle commentary about the underbelly of politics in that part of Europe.
Reflection of You (streams on Netflix) is a newly arrived Korean drama suitable for anyone intrigued by the culture from which Squid Game sprang. A slow-moving mystery/horror tale, it’s about the unravelling of the life of Jung Hee-Joo (Go Hyun-jung), a successful painter and writer. Things in her life turn strange when, one day, her daughter is slapped around at school by a new substitute teacher. The teacher has little explanation when confronted but soon enough Jung Hee-Joo believes the teacher is someone she has crossed paths with in the past. What’s going on is unclear (there are two episodes streaming now and the other 14 will air weekly) but the destruction of a family is in the cards. The first words spoken are, “I believe this world is hell.”
Finally, don’t forget Succession, reviewed recently, returns for Season 3 (Sunday, HBO/Crave, 9 p.m.) and is the unmissable event of the weekend.
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