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Friday, November 13, 2020

Marvel Reviews: Helstrom

Last month, a new Hulu streaming series tied to the Marvel Cinematic Universe was released, the first new Marvel content in a long time. I didn’t get a chance to watch it when it was released, because I was still finishing up the movies. But now that I have the time…

Full explanation of my ranking system is here. Summary: C is average, A/B is recommended, D is badly made, F is something to avoid.


Rating: B-

This series was meant to be part of a more horror-oriented offshoot of the MCU, along with a Ghost Rider series that has since been cancelled. I’m guessing it’s also going to be the last Hulu MCU series, because of office politics at Disney. So, Helstrom is not related to the other Hulu MCU series (Runaways) or to Cloak & Dagger. It’s also pretty much cut off from the rest of the MCU. with the only tie-in (again) being Roxxon… or, at least, the Internet claims they mentioned Roxxon, but I certainly didn’t spot the reference.

The Helstroms are fighting demons, both literal and metaporical, while uncovering truths about their family’s past and repairing their relationships. That’s about as much as I can say without spoiling anything. The feel of the series is close to a superserious horror film, or to Supernatural or Buffy the Vampire Slayer during one of their bleak and depressing moments. Imagine taking one of those shows, removing almost all the humor and the “monster of the week”, and just focusing on a single story for ten episodes.

It’s… good, but slow. Especially the fourth or fifth episode, when they suddenly realized "Hey, we forgot to explain the backstory. And there’s nothing surprising about the last few episodes. I think the series might have been better if there were two or three episodes with their own story. Not quite “monster of the week”, not quite "one conflict stretched out over ten episodes, but something in between.

On the plus side, once I realized Daimon Helstrom was the character I remembered as Son of Satan and remembered how ridiculous his costume was, I was glad this show depicts him more naturally, sort of like a John Constantine rather than a bare chest and spandex kind of guy armed with a pitchfork. Although there are hints of that near the end.

I had a tough time deciding if this was an average show with some standout moments that raise it above a C, or a better-quality show hampered by streaming series production values and a very cliché approach to the story. Eventually, I settled on the B- side, but keep in mind how close a call it was before deciding to watch it.

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