Saturday, May 16, 2020

October Faction: Season 1 – review

Directors: Various

First aired: 2020

Contains spoilers

October Faction was a Netflix production that has run one short season (10 episodes) and, I understand, has been cancelled. This is a shame for, whilst it had its faults, I rather enjoyed this. That said I haven’t read the graphic novels it was based on and so went in unsighted, as it were.

I wondered about reviewing this at all. The vampires are not immediately recognizable as such – a monster of some type… but vampire? I only realised what we had seen when the dialogue told me. They are also not a major factor in the show but they do appear a few times.

Deloris and Fred
So, husband and wife Fred (J.C. MacKenzie, Hemlock Grove & Dark Angel: Love in Vein) and Deloris Allen (Tamara Taylor, Justice League: Gods and Monsters) present as insurance salespersons. In truth they are monster hunters, working for the mysterious Presidio organisation. The truth is kept hidden from their kids, Viv (Aurora Burghart) and Geoff (Gabriel Darku, Shadowhunters), who have got used to a life of travelling from country to country with their parents’ job. I have seen people complain that J.C. MacKenzie doesn’t look like a monster hunter and that is exactly the point, he is meant to look like an insurance salesman.

Gabriel Darku as Geoff
Monster hunting is in the Allen family legacy and Fred’s brother was an agent, until he was killed by a werewolf (not on a hunt but in the toilet of a bar), his father, Samuel (Stephen McHattie, Dreamland, the Strain, Deadly Love & Rabid), was very senior in the organisation and his mother (Wendy Crewson) was a Presidio Archivist. As the series starts, Fred is informed of his father’s death. The family return to small town America (and the mansion Fred has been left) and the parents decide to take a yearlong sabbatical from Presidio. Things are not so simple, however, and secrets soon start emerging.

unusual fang design
So, vampires… During the wake, Fred gets drunk and Deloris drives him into town to pick up more drinks and food. Fred finds an old joint that they smoke – Lord knows how long that had been there – but, in the supermarket they see a couple and realise they are monsters in human form and they have selected a victim (a member of staff). They follow them as the two monsters track the staff member. The employee is dead and they go after the two, Fred finds the male and they chat for awhile as the man tries to persuade Fred to let them go. When it is clear that isn’t going to happen the man lunges forward, his jaw opening unnaturally wide and spiky fangs emerge at the top and bottom of his mouth. The effect made me think of an insect for some reason.

another vampire
Anyway, we later discover they were vampires. At another point, Deloris is in a bar where she draws the attention of a group of bikers – all vampires looking for revenge for their fallen comrades. It is here we get one of my issues with the series. This is an episode cliff-hanger but the next we see of Deloris she is home, battered and bruised but alive. She got away from the vampires but they are still at large (and she and Fred go after them). However, we never see how and there were a couple of moments in the series where we jump forward, the film asking us to take a key moment on trust and it feels rushed (and cheating).

Aurora Burghart as Viv
I’ve read complaints about the teen acting. I had no issue with it but I did think the scripts drew the pair, especially Geoff, as overly arrogant and as this was about the family, the teen angst and not fitting in was drawn shorthand rather than being explored meaningfully. Situations resolved or broke down way too easily. The relationship between the parents and Presidio needed a lot more filling out also. However, despite this, I did enjoy what I got – though it wasn’t classic. 6 out of 10.

The imdb page is here.

No comments: