For years, American TV shows have shown the way to the international creative community. They have produced some of the best dramas, thrillers, supernatural series, romance flicks, slice-of-life spectacles; you name the genre, and the Americans have done it.
Devil in Ohio is the latest series from the US that hit Netflix the last week. Though it is based on a book, the show promises a fresh take on cult culture. Does it deliver on the mystery and suspense as provided in its description on Netflix? Read my review to find out.
To make it clear, I haven’t read the novel by Daria Polatin.
Devil in Ohio Review Summary
Simply put, Devil in Ohio raves ferociously about thrill and chill but delivers nothing. You are regularly fed with ominous buildups throughout the show that end up as a farce.
Devil in Ohio Synopsis
A mental health doctor, Suzanne, decides to let a rescued cult escapee stay at her house instead of a foster home. Suzanne’s action leads to a domino effect both within and outside her family.
Created by Daria Polatin, Devil in Ohio stars Emily Deschanel (Suzanne), Sam Jaeger (Peter), Gerardo Celasco (Detective Lopez), Madeleine Arthur (Mae), Xaria Dotson (Jules), Alisha Newton (Helen), and Naomi Tan (Dani), among others.
What Works for Devil in Ohio?
One of the two things that work for Devil in Ohio is the storyline. The makers have stitched the story pretty well while ensuring that anticipation never fades from the screen. You will like the interlinking points and the blend of elements like investigation, bonhomie, jealousy, insecurity, etc.
Yes, crispness is missing from the tale, but the honest attempt must be appreciated. I read somewhere that originally the concept of cult was not part of the novel and that the makers have specifically infused it for the television adaptation.
Maybe, the story was better without the cult dimension. What if they had actually shown a Devil in Ohio rather than using it as a figure of speech?
Emily Deschanel methodically leads Devil in Ohio as Suzanne. She succeeds in delivering a mature, well-thought-of, and nuanced performance. The intricate management of emotionally startling scenes is aced wonderfully by Emily.
Her ability to sustain a particular expression and improvise it when needed is all the more important. This helps in keeping the characteristic flow alive.
Sam Jaeger as Peter maintains a calm composure in the show. He makes you believe in the power of ‘understanding’ in a relationship. Moreover, Sam’s affable demeanor comes as a relief when other characters are filled with a barrage of camouflaged intentions.
He is that flexible shield of the family that can bend according to the need of the hour. I found Jaeger to be among the top two performers of Devil in Ohio.
Madeleine Arthur as Mae is the center of attraction in Devil in Ohio. The story revolves around her presence at the Mathis house. Arthur’s expressions, outlandish countenance, emotional deceit, and sober narcissism are things to cherish as a viewer. At no point did I feel she was not committed to Mae’s character.
Xaria Dotson portrays Jules in the series. Depicting an introvert on the screen, Dotson never goes wrong in her act. Every trait is thoroughly captured in the realms of her mesmerizing craft. She brings depth to Devil in Ohio and ensures an unblemished ride for the viewers.
Gerardo Celasco plays Detective Lopez in the series. What starts as a gray presentation soon becomes lovable, thanks to good writing. His character reflects the grit of a cop, and with a rough texture, Gerardo ably delivers what is asked of him.
Naomi Tan as Dan is one heck of an actor. She leaves several strains of adorability in your heart. Whenever Namoi is at the forefront of things in Devil in Ohio, you can expect the ambiance to be joyous and sweet. Her dialogue delivery was fabulous, in my opinion. What more can you expect from a child artist?
What Doesn’t Work for Devil in Ohio?
Out of a dozen buildups in Devil in Ohio, none could actually bring real thrill on screen. I expected the show to be gripping and intriguing; however, it fails in both. It is like they were using the background music to fool the audience.
Usually, with the crescendo, we expect the visual appeal to go high as well. The makers have played several pranks on the viewers by increasing the anticipation but eventually producing zilch.
Devil in Ohio brings no thrill. I don’t know if it was meant to be this way, but the show fails to invigorate you despite having a great storyline at hand. The moments that were the frontrunners to stimulate your senses are wasted sumptuously.
Even tidbits of scintillation into chase sequences or suspenseful revelations would have worked for Devil in Ohio.
All the above things being constant, this Netflix series is unexciting, specifically in the first five episodes. The makers take too much time to settle the characters and bring things to a constant. As a result, their grip on the plot becomes loose.
Furthermore, drama overpowers the theme of suspense and crime in Devil in Ohio, leading to a sluggish presentation.
There’s nothing new in the show’s plot. It uses the same themes, like a mishap during Halloween, the childhood trauma of the lead affecting her decisions, and other widespread instances that we consistently witness in American TV shows.
Nevertheless, the point I want to make is that the creators could have facilitated these repeated ingredients with an engrossing narration, which doesn’t happen.
I know Devil in Ohio is high on the Netflix rankings chart. In my opinion, they are a result of expectations and don’t reflect the true performance of the series. You can watch it if you are okay with zero thrills and chills.