TV review: Requiem, BBC One
- Henry Northmore
- 30 January 2018
Spooky mystery packed with ghastly visions, haunted memories and shocking suicide
Requiem bills itself with the nicely ambiguous catch-all term 'psychological thriller', but the ghastly visions and suicide that haunt the first five minutes pretty conclusively set out its stall as a supernatural spooker. It sets the tone for this kooky otherworldly series that comes as a nice change of pace in BBC One's Friday night comedy slot.
Matilda Gray (Lydia Wilson) is an elfin classical cellist on the brink of moving to New York for her big break when her mother slits her own throat in front of her. An act so disturbing, unexpected and out of character, unsurprisingly it throws Matilda's life into chaos and confusion. What she finds among her mother's belongings opens up an even bigger mystery, leading Matilda (and her best friend Hal, played by Joel Fry) to a missing girl and the small Welsh village of Penllynith, where they meet Nick (James Frecheville) who has just inherited a huge creepy, creaky mansion from his dead uncle.
With her pale skin, wide eyes and shock of white hair, Wilson is an enigmatic lead nicely balancing ethereal and assertive qualities in Matilda. Fry is a much-needed humanising presence helping to ground the wilder elements in the real world.
Requiem deals in creeping dread and unease. Haunted by the dead, patterns start to emerge as dreams, visions and repressed memories blur. It prefers to take its time and lets the narrative play out at its own pace rather than going for cheap shock tactics, though the big revelation that closes the first episode is a genuine gasp-out-loud moment. Hopefully it can sustain the momentum over six episodes (the Beeb's last big ghost story, The Living and The Dead, would have made a great three-parter but struggled to fill a full series) as we eagerly await more surprises as the horror unfolds.
Episodes watched: one of six.
Requiem starts on BBC One, Fri 2 Feb, 9pm.