TV review: Servant
This psychological horror series is yet another Apple TV+ product worth checking out, even if it is under-promoted on the seemingly publicity-shy streaming service.
Produced and occasionally directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Servant is a true oddity.
At turns disturbing and chilling, yet at points displaying a very dark sense of humour - which is bold, given its subject matter.
The first season introduced well-to-do couple Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean (Toby Kebbell) who - while struggling with the death of their infant son Jericho - get a life-like doll as a replacement for their child.
This gets stranger when they bring in a young nanny Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) to look after it, and Dorothy sees it as a real baby. Season 1 is very bingeable, walking a tightrope that leaves you sympathising with the couple while hoping you never meet people like this and wondering how far they would take things.
Is the baby real? Is it Leanne's? Is it all a psychotic breakdown? Or is it... supernatural?
We're pulled along with this fascinating if macabre narrative.
Four episodes into the currently showing Season 2, and it has not left me as breathless.
Dorothy and Sean's Philadelphia brownstone is still a perfectly creepy and claustrophobic setting - even with the on-the-nose metaphor of foundation issues.
Dorothy's mania means she insists on returning to work as a TV reporter, putting a happy facade on her insistence that Jericho is indeed alive while determined to get him back at any and all cost.
Ambrose is great at walking this hard-to-balance line.
Meanwhile, Sean is left adrift.
The stay-home chef has a less-than-ideal alliance with his brother-in-law Julian (Rupert Grint) - neither dares to confront Dorothy with anything close to fact and both enable her theories while telling anyone who asks that it is all make-believe. Grint uncannily suits the wastrel Julian.
Bloated, boozy, greasy-haired and foul-mouthed, he is so convincing that you almost worry for Grint's well-being.
Sadly, the accent is a let-down, drowning before it makes it to the mid-Atlantic.
While a general discomfort is maintained, it has taken longer for Servant's new season to kick in, and it feels less tightly plotted.
That might be less of an issue once it can be binged in one go, but given that further seasons are planned, it is something that needs to be fixed.
SERVANT Season 2 (M18)