Just in time for the Halloween season, Hulu has released a new horror series, “Helstrom,” loosely based on the Marvel Comics characters Daimon and Santana Helstrom. The show follows siblings Daimon and Anna (Tom Austen, Sydney Lemon) as they work to solve the mystery of their mother’s demonic possession and bring their supernatural, serial killer father to justice. Although this may sound like an interesting premise, the show leaves a lot to be desired.
What immediately stands out about “Helstrom” is the way it just feels like low-quality television. The series is visually unimpressive and the acting and dialogue are both laughably bad. The lack of decent camera work and visual effects is even worse once you realize the tone the show is going for. It tries very hard to create a spooky and eerie atmosphere but fails nearly every time. This is supposed to be horror, but the scares are practically nonexistent.
One of the fundamental weaknesses of the show are the two protagonists. Daimon Helstrom is a clever, snarky exorcist who cares deeply for his family and will stop at nothing to rescue his mother from her demonic possession. Austen’s performance is not great and the clumsy dialogue only serves to make things worse. The writers try to give Daimon a lot of jokes, but very few of them actually land. As a character, Anna is slightly more interesting than her brother. She was abducted by their serial killer father for many years as a child and now resents both her brother and mother for allowing her to be taken. She is also snarky but does not care about her family like Daimon does. Sydney Lemon is easily the best actor in the show, making it a little bit easier to get invested in her character. Not to mention, Anna’s jokes are significantly better than Daimon’s. The contrast between Daimon and Anna’s respective views on their family is supposed to provide the majority of the character drama, but it becomes obvious from the first few episodes where their arcs are going.
The writers chose to spend a weird amount of time on Gabriella (Ariana Guerra), a nun sent by the Vatican to assist Daimon with exorcisms and try to help solve his mother’s case. Gabriella does not do much throughout the season. It seems like she only exists to talk to Daimon about how he does not trust the church. This is an issue with all of the side characters on this show. Daimon and Anna are not very interesting, so the subplots that follow other characters seem to go nowhere.
The plot is just as bad as the characters. It is very unclear episode to episode what the characters are trying to accomplish. It is not until about halfway through the season that some kind of central conflict takes shape. Even after this point, the show is just boring to watch.
There are some bad shows that are still fun to watch and laugh at. “Helstrom” is not one of those shows. It tries to take itself very seriously but does not have good enough production to hold up such earnest writing.
Rating: 1.5 out of 5 stars