Friday, October 28, 2022

The Devil’s Hour, on Prime

Perhaps Lucy Chambers should have opted for the security of a freelance writing career. That way she could go to bed at 4:00 AM. Instead, she wakes up each and every night at 3:33 AM precisely. The stress from her work at Child Protective Services probably does not help, but the phenomenon certainly seems to be sinister and uncanny in nature at the start of creator Tom Moran’s The Devil’s Hour, which premieres today on Prime Video.

“Gideon” gives off Hannibal Lecter vibes during the in medias res opening. It appears he is being held in-custody in a police interrogation room, where he has requested Chambers presence, to explain all the madness viewers are about to watch. Rewinding a little, we clearly understand how much stress Chambers is enduring.

Her emotionally-frozen son Isaac is having very disturbing problems at school. For instance, he beats himself up, because other boys told him so. He also often exhibits spooky “shine”-like behavior, claiming to see people who aren’t there and the like, especially around the time Chambers wakes each night. Isaac has been a long-term issue in her life, but recently, Chambers has had premonitions of the grisly murders of an abused wife and daughter, whose cases she handles.

Somehow, those crimes that have not happened yet are related to the brutal case DI Ravi Dhillon is working. There might also be a connection to a notorious local unsolved murder that predates Dhillon. He is on the fast-track, but he still has difficulty stomaching blood. Fortunately, his gruff but understanding sergeant, DS Nick Holness, helps him cover as best he can.

Devil’s Hour is intended to be a mind-bending serial killer mystery involving time-travel, or some kind of time-warping, much like Apple TV+’s Shining Girls. However, creator Silka Luisa did a much better job establishing the ground rules in the early episodes. Based on the first two episodes provided for review, it is hard to really understand what is going on, particularly where Gideon fits into it all. Still, episode two, “The Velveteen Rabbit,” ends on a heck of a cliffhanger.

Given what we have seen so far, the procedural stuff is by far more compelling than the melodrama involving Chambers and creepy little Isaac. Both Nikesh Patel and Alex Ferns are terrific as Dhillon and Holness. If they survive season one, we would be willing to watch further
X-File-style investigations with their characters.

Peter Capaldi is massively sinister and totally cool as Gideon, but despite his face on the key, he has very little screen-time in the first two episodes. Jessica Raines viscerally conveys all the anxiety Chambers is carrying and Benjamin Chivers definitely makes an unsettling little moppet as the totally off and off-putting Isaac. Yet, a little of their
Bad Seed-kitchen sink drama goes a long way.

This might be a case where two episodes just aren’t enough to fully form a critical judgement. There are a whole lot of hooky-grabby elements in
Devil’s Hour, but there are also several repeated motifs that will make you say “not this again already,” but we do not know how they pay-off yet. There is potential, because murder and time travel are always a good mix, but the Isaac Chambers set-up could have been tighter. If you have Apple TV, Shining Girls takes off right from the start, but hopefully Devil’s Hour will be a good substitute for those who don’t. Somewhat cautiously recommended thus far, but no promises, The Devil’s Hour starts streaming today (10/28) on Prime.