The horror genre has been fairly up and down on TV, but that didn't stop the BBC from trying with their latest supernatural horror series, Requiem. For a corporation that specialises in crime dramas/murder mysteries, soap operas and Doctor Who, Requiem is something of a bold, new direction, having six episodes with an hour granted for each, which allows more opportunities for character development and building up atmospheric horror throughout. However, while there is some chilling horror for most of the first episode, the rest of the series ignores all of that and becomes a generic murder mystery with the rare occasional supernatural or chilly moment here and there. Despite being advertised as a paranormal thriller, there's very little horror here, and the mystery itself surrounding Matilda and her true heritage isn't entirely original, is done more effectively in better mystery dramas, and is cliché-riddled.
Requiem revolves around cello star Matilda Gray, whose mother commits suicide right in front of her, and is wondering whether or not it's all connected to the disappearance of a young girl named Carys who was abducted from her Welsh village years ago. The first episode contains some grisly moments and creepy foreboding to the whirlwind of supposed spirits that are haunting the Welsh mansion that is featured heavily throughout the series. But then we are revealed the truth by the end of the first episode, and from that point on, all momentum is lost as we learn more about what happened to Carys, the Welsh town and the community that inhabits it. While the mystery itself is passable on its own, it's not enough to carry a six-hour runtime and the horror is lacking – which is a shame considering the pre-publicity was bragging about this being the scariest BBC production ever.
While there is the occasional scary moment in each of the six episodes (especially during one scene taking place within a shower), these scenes are infrequent and are so sporadically placed, any effective shock value is lost. Even the scares that come later on feel like cheap tactics as means of making these later episodes more intense and interesting since all intrigue and dreading atmosphere goes by the end of the first episode. The local villagers that inhabit this Welsh town are clearly annoyed by Matilda's appearance and they all wish her ill, and it isn't hard to see why; she becomes increasingly annoying, pestering the mother of the lost child constantly, as well as a little boy in his school playground. Sure, you could make some defence for her actions given the circumstances, but her obsessive nature clearly shows how cuckoo for coco-puffs she is that you almost want to see her get some help of any kind.
In the end, Requiem is something of a disappointment; it has solid production values, has fine performances, and is a competent series on its own, but the mystery gets in the way of the horror, and this creates a lot of padding so you do get the sense that it's all incredibly drawn out to a point. The best way anyone can enjoy this series is how it probably should've been marketed as: a murder/kidnap mystery with a tad hint of the supernatural here and there. This isn't a great series, nor is it particularly scary, but it's not badly made and there are some things within it that can pique a person's interest, even if the overall ride isn't quite as gripping as it should've been.
REQUIEM / CERT: 15 / CREATOR: KRIS MRKSA / SCREENPLAY: BLAKE AYSHFORD, KRIS MRKSA / STARRING: LYDIA WILSON, JOEL FRY / JAMES FRECHEVILLE, SIAN REESE-WILLIAMS, BRENDAN COYLE / RELEASE DATE: MARCH 19TH