Requiem

Warning: the new Netflix-BBC drama Requiem is about to lead you down the garden path.

You may find yourself in binge-mode as you try to figure out what’s going on, a bit like the central character, cellist Matilda Grey (Lydia Wilson).

The 6 part series presents as something of a ghost story / psychological thriller. There are spooky bumps in the night, and even in daylight, with an ominous, historic Welsh mansion bequeathed to a young Aussie relative, Nick (James Frecheville) -a nod to the Aussie screenwriters perhaps, rather than to Scooby Doo.

“Tilly’s” world is turned upside down when her mother (Joanna Scanlan) fatally slices her own throat whilst seemingly possessed. Suddenly her career and trip to the US are put on hold, but the discovery of newspaper clippings about the 1994 disappearance of a young girl, lure her to the Welsh town of Penllynith with trusty pal Hal (Joel Fry) by her side.

But while a confrontation with the girl’s mother Rose (Claire Rushbrook) nearly ends in fisticuffs, Aussie Nick invites the pair to his newly-inherited estate. Upon arrival even more questions arise: has she been here before, what’s the deal with broken mirrors, and who is she anyway?

Local police (Clare Calbraith) remain sceptical of Tilly’s rants and villagers are protective of the already-traumatised Rose, but it is clear (not just from the twisted opening scenes) that something is seriously askew and it will take 6 episodes to get to the bottom of it. Questions of identity, belonging and truth loom large….

Writer Kris Mrksa (Underbelly, The Slap, Janet King, Glitch) is on a passion project with this stark tale, visually imagined by director Mahalia Belo -fellow Aussie Blake Ashyford also writes episodes. The turning points are sparse, requiring patience over pay-offs.

Lydia Wilson commits to the quizzical task, following Tilly’s intuition in defiance of Joel Fry’s more-logical Hal. James Frecheville (Animal Kingdom) brings some Aussie benevolence to the Brits and there are eccentric supporting roles, notably elderly mute neighbour (Jane Thorne).

The series has concluded in the UK and there is talk of more, suggesting that not everything may be paid off this season. If you’re good with that, then Requiem is worth a look.

Requiem screens Friday on Netflix.

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