That Turkey is growing in creativity is a fact. Most of the films I have watched from the region in the recent past have been distinctly enjoyable.
Moreover, Turkish creators are consistently evolving and shredding their traditional image of following a particular path while picking genres.
Take the example of Man on Pause. It explored a different niche and succeeded in doing that.
A new Turkish show has made its way to Netflix, and I cannot be sorrier for reviewing it late. A political thriller with traces of Sci-Fi, Hot Skull is based on the book by Afsin Kum.
It has eight episodes, each with a duration of at least over fifty minutes. And when something is that long, you must question whether it is worth your time.
Here’s my Hot Skull review, where I will share the strengths and shortcomings of the series.
What is the story of Hot Skull?
With the world suffering from an epidemic for the past eight years, Turkey must wage war against an authoritarian regime to secure its future.
Hot Skull explores a virus that travels through speech and enters the human body via the ears. Once infected, the person starts jabbering irrelevantly and loses control over their mind.
The show has been created by Mert Baykal. It stars Osman Sonant (Murat), Sevket Coruh (Anton), Hazel Subasi (Sule), Tilbe Saran, Kubilay Tuncer (Fazil), Ozgur Emre Yildirim (Ozgur), Gonca Vuslateri, Haken Gercek, Erdem Akakce, Baris Yildiz, Arda Anarat, Furkan Kalabalik, and others.
Hot Skull has a fascinating concept that I initially thought would be too superficial to execute. However, the makers have done a spectacular job of bringing the idea to the screen.
Since the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic, several movies and web shows have explored the unimaginable consequences of transmittable diseases.
Though such concepts were there even before, the quantity has increased post 2020. In Hot Skull, you have a novel virus that spreads through speech and makes the infected person jabber.
The government launches attacks on those affected and does little to contain the spread constructively. Hot Skull creates an ominous environment surrounding the hovering danger and offers ample intrigue to hook you.
Secondly, the storyline is enjoyable. It is relatable and never tries to go overboard with the idea. The makers understand they are already riding on a tightrope, and any mistake in crafting the tale would have consequences.
A huge credit for the story should go to Afsin Kum, the writer on whose book Hot Skull is based. The series carries a deft narration, allowing you to keep watching in anticipation.
Moreover, Hot Skull has an invigorating screenplay. Never does the show feel colorless, and goes on to carry a lot of vigor in its wings.
From characters to the surroundings and ambiance, the Turkish series champions every element. No tidbit is left in the lurch when it comes to the screenplay.
Furthermore, thrill and mystery are infused at the right moments. The feeling of impending doom is utilized to major effect at specific intervals in Hot Skull.
Thankfully, the creators have achieved all of this while staying realistic. You won’t see them wasting your curiosity by throwing illogical theories and twists.
Is Hot Skull slow?
No, Hot Skull has a brisk pace and never feels insipid due to the speed of narration. It is precisely the pace that keeps the show pumped up.
How are the performances in Hot Skull?
All the actors are superb in the show, starting with Osman Sonant, who plays Murat. His gritty outline and rough physical traits allow you to believe in the concept of Hot Skull.
There will be times in the series when Sonant will surprise you with his intricacy. The actor, playing the lead, rises to the occasion and ensures you are served better.
Sevket Coruh, as Anton, displays varying emotions and develops his character from the ground. When he has to hone a gray demeanor, Coruh seems deceivingly perfect.
On the other hand, the positive shades suit him equally well. The blend of authenticity and heroic passion makes Sevket and Osman touch your hearts.
Hazel Subasi plays Sule in Hot Skull. She is like the drop of rain on a hot summer afternoon. Her arrival brings calmness to a chaotic plot.
Subasi impresses with an intelligent personality draped in gentleness. Thankfully, her screen time is not curtailed. I am saying this keeping some of the recent shows in mind.
In a negative character, Kubilay Tuncer, as Fazil, stokes fear among the audience. He makes you hate him through his methods onscreen. And that’s what every villainous persona aims to achieve.
Ozgur Emre Yildirim shows a marvelous transformation compared to his previous occupation in the show. His ostentatious act adds flavor to Hot Skull.
All the rest of the actors are great in the series, making it what it is.
Is there anything that doesn’t work for Hot Skull?
I felt the start could have been better. The show falters at the beginning with a preachy narration when it could have banged thrill into place right from the word go.
Furthermore, some of the twists were predictable in Hot Skull, though most of them were rousing. The makers could have chosen a different path in the end, which, in my opinion, is not the best of ideas to go with.
It felt stretchy as the ending neared.
Should Hot Skull be watched?
Definitely, you should not miss Hot Skull. It is one of those shows that can change Turkey’s perception of cinema. From the storyline to the screenplay, Hot Skull doesn’t falter in any department.
Yes, there are minor snags, as I mentioned, but that’s part and parcel of movie-making.