TV show will seriously creep you out
IF YOU'RE of the delicate sort, don't watch Servant right before bed.
A nocturnal voyage into this new TV series' deeply unsettling world could result in all kinds of Dali-esque dreams, the ones that make you grateful to wake up and face the fluorescent lights of your office instead.
At least we usually know what nightmares await us in the daytime, and it tends to not involve a garbage disposal unit standing in for Chekhov's gun - unless you're a plumber, of course.
Psychological horror Servant, streaming now on Apple TV+, was created by British writer Tony Basgallop (What Remains, Hotel Babylon) but it's another name that's been getting all the attention: M. Night Shyamalan.
The brains behind The Sixth Sense, Split and other notoriously twisty movies is executive producer on Servant and he directed the first episode and another instalment.
So that should give you some idea of what you're in for - some, but not all.
I'll keep the premise light because it's best to not know too much going in. After all, why prematurely puncture that expertly crafted sense of immense dread if you don't have to?
Sean (Toby Kebbell) and Dorothy Turner (Lauren Ambrose) is a well-to-do couple living in a beautifully decorated townhouse in Philadelphia.
She's a TV reporter and he's a "professional bon vivant", but actually a work-from-home chef, recipe writer and food stylist with a perfect palate, a vintage coffee machine and an anecdote about "getting sh*tfaced on two bottles of grenache and a syrah" with a valet.
On a rainy night, they welcome a young woman, Leanne (Game of Thrones' Nell Tiger Free), into their home as the new nanny to baby Jericho.
Leanne is an off-putting presence with her timid voice, stringy long dark hair and quiet steps. She also has dark shark eyes that feel like they could pierce any emotional armour you may have erected.
That first night in the house, Dorothy is a bundle of nerves, so desperate to make a good impression on the young woman she talks a million miles an hour.
The whole time, you'll sense something isn't right. The house is too ordered, too quiet. The camera angles are too peculiar, too off. Everything about this tableau will send your spider senses tingling.
It's not long before the first reveal, and it'll jolt you out of nowhere, a small but shocking moment. But it doesn't relieve the tension, only raises more questions.
The first three episodes of Servant's 10-episode first season is streaming right now on Apple TV+ with new episodes to roll out weekly on Fridays. Apple has already renewed the series for a second season.
It's a handsomely constructed series high on suspense and dread, an acutely uncomfortable work heightened by the claustrophobia of keeping almost all the action within that townhouse, and a small cast that also includes Rupert Grint (yes, Ron Weasley) as Dorothy's brother.
Shyamalan has always been a visually interesting storyteller who falls over in the writing more than anywhere else. With someone else penning the scripts, Servant has the potential to carry through on its promise. But the aesthetic identity established by Shyamalan in that first episode is strong.
Creepy and unnerving, Servant is a serious contender for your watchlist.
Servant is streaming on Apple TV+
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