Friday, February 18, 2022

From, on Epix

There is good diner food in this small town, so it is Twin Peaks-ish in that respect. It is also Lost-like in that nobody understands how they got stuck there. Unfortunately, there is not much else there—during the day. At night, it gets considerably worse when the monsters come out. The Matthews family will the latest to find themselves trapped in John Griffin’s From, which premieres this Sunday on Epix.

There was a mysterious tree blocking the road for the Matthews’ RV, so they tried to back up and take a detour. Yet, no matter what turn they take, the road always leads them back to the most depressed small hamlet you have ever seen. That is how it always happens for new arrivals, except the Matthewses also manage to collide with a stoned driver also caught up in the same paranormal phenomenon.

As Sherriff Boyd Stevens and Kristi the doctor (technically, a third year med student) try to explain to the skeptical Jim Matthews, monsters prey on the town at night. Mysterious talismans seem to keep them at bay, unless they trick people into letting them into their homes. Unfortunately, there is not much light left when they reach the crash scene, so everyone might soon see for themselves.

While the set-up definitely fits the
Lost sub-sub-genre (both series also share a couple of producers, including Jack Bender, who helmed the first four episodes provided for review), there are a lot of horror elements added. The show’s first supernatural encounter even echoes a classic scene in the original Salem’s Lot, but at least Griffin and company borrowed a lot of good stuff that worked then—and still works when repurposed now.

In fact, the earlier episodes, wherein everyone only has time to worry about the monsters—essentially, they look and act like an unholy cross between zombies and demons—actually are creepier and more effective than the middle episodes that explore the strange lore and powers that govern the town.

At the center of it all is Harold Perrineau, who is terrific as the reluctant but commanding Sherriff Stevens. He brings all kinds of steely badness to
From, but always helps humanize the show with guilt-ridden backstory and compassionate response to the town screw-up, whose negligence contributes to the initial horrors. Rocky He also provides a strong, human rooting interest as his deputy, Kenny.

As the Matthewses, Catalina Sandino Moreno and Eion Bailey convincingly bicker like a couple on the brink of divorce, but they still project a sense of sharing a deep connection between them. However, their teenage daughter is just abrasively and relentlessly annoying, at least through the first four episodes, but maybe you could argue that makes her true to life.

The tone of
From, so far, is not unlike Epix’s Chapelwaite, which isn’t such a bad thing. When Bender and company go for creepiness, they achieve it nicely. On the other hand, it is not yet clear whether the big mystery mythos will fully pay off, but as long as they keep the demonic hordes coming, the series should be sound as a pound. Recommended based on a really strong start, From premieres this Sunday (2/20) on Epix.