Director – Len Wiseman
Writers – Max Verheiden & Gary Dauberman
After the magnificence of Titans and the brilliance of Doom Patrol, DC Universe have done it again. Swamp Thing is a perfect mix of horror, mystery and comic book fan service. Belying its troubled production which has seen the episode count drop from 13 to 10, this looks every inch the high end show. With the budget clearly going on the screen, the show is pitched perfectly, blowing away the memory of the schlocky, low budget 80’s film adaptations that failed to do the character justice. This is eerie, gory, spooky and dark. And for the record, I love it!
The opening scene sets the bar for what is to come moving forward, with three nefarious individuals on the swamp, dropping undisclosed packages into the water. Tense, gripping and grotesque, this is a perfect introduction into the world of Marais, Louisiana. A great synergy of cgi and practical effects, this nerve shredding sequence is up there with anything seen in a Hollywood horror blockbuster, giving great credit to the directing chops of Len Wiseman, honed in the likes of Die Hard 4 and the Underworld film series. Enjoy it below, but be warned, it is not for the faint of heart…..
The performances are all top drawer here too. Andy Bean, in what presumably will be the sole appearance of Alec Holland in his human state, delivers a performance of charisma and enthusiasm. Despite the obvious impending doom for Holland, he dominates the screen, serving his purpose by enticing sympathy for the disgraced scientists, which is turn directs us viewers to give our empathy for the character when resurrected as Swamp Thing. His short-lived chemistry with Abby Arcane, played by Crystal Reed of Gotham fame, sets the table for the odd couple romance that is due to unravel between the creature and Abby as the series progresses. Reed is excellent as Arcane, here depicted as a CDC doctor investigating the epidemic in her former home town. And it’s a home town full of ghosts and bad memories too, with a tragic past involving the death of the Sunderland’s daughter, which will undoubtedly come to the fore with time.
Veteran actors Will Patton and Virginia Madsen, as the aforementioned Sunderlands, Marais’ power couple, have little screen time but do a lot with it. Bringing gravitas to the screen, their less than honourable intentions behind the curtain will drive the plot forward, as the secrets of the swamp are unveiled. Comic readers will be salivating at the list of characters yet to appear. We are getting Jason Woodrue, we have had a small glimpse of Madam Xanadu, and my personal favourite, Blue Devil will be gracing the screen! It promises to be a veritable all you can eat buffet of comic gold. If Abby’s uncle Anton makes an appearance, then this show is going to be a smash hit!
A special mention must go to the special effects in this episode. Utilising some of the best practical effects seen in a comic book adaptation to date, the “lab scene” is something very special, on a par with anything seen in John Carpenter’s The Thing, an obvious inspiration here. If you haven’t seen it, do it now! Make sure you have a strong constitution though, as it is body horror in every sense of the word.
One of the best pilot episodes in recent memory, the horror aesthetic elevates the show and sets it apart from other comic book television shows out there. Deadly serious, macabre and dangerous, it will be a joy to watch each week. With a mere ten episodes not allowing for any filler, the storytelling should be tight and atmospheric, with lashings of action-oriented horror on the side. Roll on episode 2.