MONSTERLAND Review: Hulu's New Anthology Series Is A Haunting, Melancholy Must Watch

MONSTERLAND Review: Hulu's New Anthology Series Is A Haunting, Melancholy Must Watch

Hulu's new anthology series, Monsterland, is set to premiere on October 2, and now that the embargo has lifted we can tell you what we thought of this strange, compelling 8-episode first season...

Monsterland is set to premiere on Hulu next month, and it offers a unique, highly compelling alternative to the usual horror fare this Halloween season.

Based on Nathan Ballingrud’s short story collection North American Lake Monsters, the 8-part anthology series focuses on a group of characters across various different locations in the U.S. and their encounters with fantastical/supernatural creatures. These people are all, in one way or another, broken, suffering or desperately searching for answers, and while most of the stories are self-contained, they do share some common themes and a familiar face or two.

Like any anthology show, some of the episodes work a lot better than others, but there are more hits than misses and all make for an engaging watch at the very least. Highlights include the first instalment, which stars Kaitlyn Dever as a down-on-her-luck waitress who catches the attention of a brutal serial killer; and the story of a grieving father (Luke Cage's Mike Colter) desperately searching for his missing daughter as angels fall from the sky.

The best of the bunch is arguably the heartbreaking, yet blackly funny tale of a married couple played by Roberta Colindrez and Taylor Schilling who are struggling to cope with the latter's mental illness and repeated suicide attempts.

Hulu's creepy 'Monsterland' trailer is here to kick off your fall nightmares

Less successful is the episode which focuses on an isolated teenager who begins to believe his life is so awful because of a supernatural "shadow" that appears in his home, and the one featuring Star Wars' Kelly Marie Tran as a new bride with a dark secret also leaves a lot to be desired. They have strong premises, but are let down by muddled, unsatisfying conclusions.

Indeed, quite a few of the episodes opt for somewhat ambiguous endings, and one could argue that there's more emphasis placed on style than substance when it comes to providing answers. This can be a little frustrating (the more abrupt closers, in particular), but it works for the most part because so many of these stories are really more about the human condition than the actual "monsters," which often seem to be presented as metaphorical or abstract ideas/devices.

The "man is the real monster" trope is hardly original, but Monsterland delves that little bit deeper while coming up with fresh twists on the usual genre conventions.

If you go in expecting an abundance of scares and gore you might be disappointed, but for anyone searching for more thought-provoking, character-based horror, this is a must-watch. While not every idea is explored to its full potential, Monsterland succeeds as a haunting, melancholy meditation with excellent performances. Don't be surprised if some of these unsettling yarns stay with you for quite a while after.

All 8 episodes of Monsterland will be available on Hulu from October 2.

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