There are two endorsements straight off the bat I can make about Glitch.
The first: as soon as Episode 1 was over I wanted to get stuck into Episode 2.
The second: we generally don’t tackle this genre in Australia. Unless perhaps you count Nowhere Boys, a tween supernatural series. Glitch is like the grown-up version, from the same executive producer in Tony Ayres (The Slap, The Devil’s Playground, Old School, Maximum Choppage). It’s darker, moody and with more soul-searching.
Whilst international television has been embracing horror and paranormal dramas such as The Walking Dead, True Blood, In The Flesh, The Returned and Resurrection it’s generally deemed a genre that requires a hefty budget. But Glitch demonstrates that it is still possible to unravel an intriguing tale without massive casts and expensive set pieces.
Set in the fictional rural Victorian town of Yoorana, the mystery wastes no time in drawing the viewer in.
Indigenous teen Beau (Aaron McGrath) is cycling past the local cemetery when he witnesses muddied, naked bodies rising from the graves. Something bizarre is going on and he tries to snap the evidence on his phone before hightailing it out of there.
Local cop Sgt. James Hayes (Patrick Brammall) responds to a disturbance call and arrives to find these naked wandering souls. He’s perplexed by the sight. “Some kind of dare? Satantic ritual? Were you just on the piss?” he asks.
Soon Dr. Elishia McKeller (Genevieve O’Reilly) arrives and this ragtag bunch of dazed and confused are taken in cars to a local health centre. As it happens the disparate group (portrayed by Sean Keenan, Daniella Farinacci, Kirstie Darrow and James Monarski) also includes James’ deceased wife, Kate (Emma Booth). He quickly reels in disbelief, given she died 2 years earlier…
“Why am I here? Why am I back?” Explanations are impossible.
Meanwhile Beau stumbles upon an elderly Irishman, Paddy Fitzgerald (Ned Dennehy), who has splintered from the group and is wandering the streets. In this collision of cultures, the racist Paddy is aimless in a place he no longer recognises, and there are hints he is even from another era. This Yoorana, Beau explains, is now “the arse end of the arse end of the world.”
Until he can explain this aberration, James seeks to protect those under his care, but another cop (Andrew McFarlane) is looking for answers to strange disturbances…. however by episode two another soul (Rodger Corser) will add to the living body count.
How the undead are linked, and what caused them to return will underpin the series, but there are clues along the way, for the audience.
Yet like any writer-created universe, there are also rules with consequences for those that dare to break them.
What’s so nice about Glitch is the way our characters enrich the plot. Under Director Emma Freeman’s hand the cast play for truth, rather than the default alternative of letting the plot overwhelm them. Whether ‘undead’ or living, these confused souls are etched in reason, subtext and flaws.
Patrick Brammall is torn between rational thoughts and personal guilt, while Emma Booth is looking to belong. Ned Dennehy’s features are perfect for his period role, and Genevieve O’Reilly always brings gravitas to her work.
Visually the drama creates an uneasy world of an isolated town, with empty streets and yellow hues. Unlike big-budget US dramas, there are few SFX and no need for dozens of roles. With barely a handful of principals, Glitch demonstrates remarkable clarity of story.
While some may deem this to be an ‘Australian Returned‘ it has more momentum and is aided by the perspective of James (Brammall) as the tale’s hero.
Glitch is escapist fun. If it can deliver some major pay-offs by the end of its 6 episodes then it may just tick all the boxes.
Glitch premieres 8:30pm Thursday July 9 on ABC (all 6 eps available on iview thereafter).