Monday, May 29, 2023

The Rising, on CW

When it comes to amateur sleuths, Neve Kelly is unusually highly motivated, especially for a Gen Z’er. The murder she is trying to solve is her own. Obviously, she is at a bit of a disadvantage as a ghost, but there are a few people who can see her. Regardless, there is a murderer out there, who does not want to be caught in The Rising, Peter McTighe’s eight-episode British remake of the Belgian series Hotel Beau Sejour, which premieres tonight on the CW.

It is not initially shocking the Kelly did not make home the morning after her final motor-cross race of season. When she wakes up in the lake, she is still not aware of her death. Unfortunately, due to the booze at the party and the trauma of the murder, she has no memory of what was done to her, or by whom. At first, nobody seems to be able to see her, but soon she realizes her hard boozing father can. Of course, he cannot believe his eyes, but with a little effort, she convinces him of her presence. Then she also realizes Alex Wyatt, her boyfriend’s cousin can see her too. Eventually, it will get to the point where it would be easier to just list who can’t see Kelly, but frustratingly for her, her grieving mother Maria Kelly never can.

Weirdly, the issue of who can see Kelly and why gets worked out to an acceptable extent. However, there are a lot of other questions about the mechanics of “death” that are never satisfactorily explained. Kelly still needs to take her motorbike to get across town, but nobody can see her driving it, except her well-lubricated dad. When she smashes up a vase, but it appears just as it was, once the living turn their gaze towards it. Frankly, the way dead Kelly interacts with the physical world makes almost no sense. Instead, it seems deliberately fluid, simply to help advance the storyline. Yet, the persistence of those nagging issues of logic constantly distracts from the drama.

There is a lot in
The Rising that comes perilously close to genuine silliness. Still, the series has its creepy moments, especially when Kelly links her murder to the previous disappearance of woman, whose body was never recovered. Matthew McNulty and Emily Taaffe are also both excellent as Kelly’s divorced parents, who deal with their grief in very different ways. Alex Lanipekun is also a standout (in a good way) as Kelly’s distraught stepfather, Daniel Sands, whose own grief is unfairly ignored and belittled by his overwrought wife.

In fact, McTighe and his co-writers handle themes of grief and recovery quite well. Sadly, they also give us a beyond-the-grave lesbian romance for Kelly and Wyatt that makes no dramatic sense, but it ticks the right woke boxes. Seriously, if you were just murdered and wanted to find the guilty party, how inclined would you be to simultaneously also start “exploring your sexuality?” Regardless, Clara Rugaard certainly never sells this cliched plot turn to the viewers. In fact, her moody portrayal of Kelly often feels rather lifeless, so to speak.

The Rising is a goofy mess, but it has several really good performances mixed into the campiness. Nicholas Gleaves is particularly impressive as the prime suspect Kelly latches onto in the later episodes. It is such an odd mishmash of honest emotion, creepy atmosphere, and embarrassingly cornball sexual melodrama, it is hard to stop watching. It is also riddled with logical inconsistencies, but for cult fans, that might become part of its dubious charm. “Recommended” for John Waters and fans of the notorious Lindsay Lohan vehicle I Know Who Killed Me, The Rising starts tonight (5/29) on the CW.