Part of the first wave of Apple TV+ content to launch their streaming programming, M. Night Shyamalan's SERVANT is a creepy series that drew me deep into its mystery with the first episode.
With 10 half hour installments, the length of each chapter is perfect. I defy you to watch just one!
In the first episode, there was at least one literal jaw-dropping moment that cleverly plays with your perceptions and kicks you 90 degrees onto a new path. The surprises continue throughout.
Lauren Ambrose (Six Feet Under) is Philadelphia TV News Reporter Dorothy Turner, married to celebrity chef Sean Turner (in a great performance by Toby Kebbell). Their brownstone is incredible, his kitchen is built for photo shoots and they're welcoming their first child into the home.
But all is not what it seems.
Anyone that's seen the trailer surely thinks, "what's up with that baby?"
Their new nanny is a young, country girl named Leanne. Almost silent, emotionless and timid, Sean thinks she's weird and Dorothy thinks she's perfect for the job.
But mysteries abound, slow paced camera swirls and scary music by Trevor Gureckis (The Goldfinch) creep under your skin as each episode tenaciously unpacks one strange fact after another.
Rupert Grint (Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter series) is excellent as Dorothy's brother Julian. Funny, wild and in full grasp of numerous vices, Julian is suspicious of everyone. Watching him get pulled into this very twisted tale will make you laugh out loud when you're not cringing.
Nell Tiger Free (Game of Thrones) is very good as our title nanny. She casts a David Lynch like spell over each episode. I never knew where the story was going, but loved the journey.
Apple has lavished a lot of money on all their new content and this looks like it.
Sean's dishes that he prepares seem to follow his character's descent, starting out appetizing and ending with one of the most disturbing party treats ever created.
Shyamalan's fingerprints are all over the mood, feel and Philadelphia settings and he continues his recent rebirth from trick ending specialist to more balanced story teller.
His tricks here, along with writer/director Tony Basgallop (24: Live Another Day) are mostly manipulations of the timeline that mess with your head and challenge what you think about character reveals.
Season 2 has already been announced and I'm intrigued to see more. Shyamalan says he envisions six seasons of the series. The creators are going to have to find a cast as compelling as Kebbell & Grint to maintain the same level (Ambrose was hit and miss for me) but they have a fascinating central character in Leanne Grayson.
Check out episode 1 and get ready for a late night, SERVANT is very binge-worthy and gets a B+.