Category Archives: Series Reviews

#QuarantineAndChill: Netflix Binge List

You’ve marvelled at your own reflection in Black Mirror, mastered the Brummie accent alongside Peaky Blinders, brushed up on your crime history with Mindhunter, and took 80s fashion tips from Stranger Things. What next?

The Netflix library in Singapore may be scant compared to others, but there is no lack of quality choices. As cabin fever starts to set in, there is no better time to binge on great series to take your mind off reality. Here is a list of ten underrated shows that may point you to the right direction.

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Series Review: Giri/Haji (2020)

Giri/Haji (by Joe Barton, 2020) – A Tokyo detective arrives in London when he is tasked to find his brother, whose alleged crime sends ripples across the two cities.

5/5

Tokyo detective Kenzo Mori (Takehiro Hira) travels to Soho in search of his estranged brother Yuto (Yosuke Kubozuka), whose alleged murder of a Yazuka family member ignites an all-out gang war. The incident sets the Yakuza on a collision course with the Met Police, embroiling others along the way.

In an endless sea of British crime dramas, Giri/Haji stands out by a mile. It is for one, an adventurous cultural exchange. Shuttling between Japan and the UK, the unique series takes its time to understand the minutiae of foreign traditions, respectful and never exploitative.

The contrast in cultures is interesting, though it is ultimately the similarities that fascinate the most. In his story, Joe Barton recognises the experiences that are neither uniquely Japanese nor British, but simply human.

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Series Review: Slasher (2016)

Slasher (dir. Craig David Wallace, 2016) – Sarah Bennett returns to small town Waterbury where her parents were killed, only to find the past re-emerging as a new series of murders begins.

Verdict

A trope-embracing genre tribute by horror fans, for horror fans. Slasher dishes up a bloody good time, all in the name of fun.

3/5

Review

Moving back to the town where your parents were murdered, is a bad idea. Just ask Laurie Strode. But Sarah Bennett (Katie McGrath) clearly hasn’t seen enough horror movies to stay away. The youngest victim left alive by The Executioner chooses to move into that very crime scene in Waterbury, Canada, with the support of her loving husband Dylan (Brandon Jay McLaren).

There, Sarah reveals her true intent – to visit Tom Winston (Patrick Garrow), the now-imprisoned killer who orphaned her on Halloween 30 years ago. But closure becomes the least of her worries, when a new Executioner begins enacting copycat murders with a biblical twist. Seven deadly sins guarantee a growing body count. And in this small town where secrets breed and resentment boils, everyone is a suspect.

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Series Review: Residue (2015)

Residue (dir. Alex-Garcia Lopez, 2015) – After a massive explosion in the city centre, photographer Jennifer Preston uncovers a massive government conspiracy and unexpectedly, the paranormal.

Verdict

Don’t expect a fast-paced thriller with a perfect resolution. Residue is a slow-burning but promising pilot, made to build anticipation for what is to come.

3/5

Review

Residue is excessively drawn out, and maddeningly inconclusive. That doesn’t mean it is not worth a watch. Set in a dystopian near-future, the aspiring Black Mirror episode is a plodding yet assured pilot that promises things will only get better from here.

Intrigue lies in the gripping premise of this sci-fi/horror mystery thriller, where a massive explosion on New Year’s Eve leaves the city centre in quarantine. The measure is ostensibly in place due to contamination from a bio-weapon facility. But any X-Files aficionado will be loath to take the official word for it.

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Series Review: Animal Kingdom (2016)

Animal Kingdom (by Jonathan Lisco, 2016) – After the death of his mother, 17-year-old Joshua Cody moves in with his relatives for the start of a new, reckless life.

Verdict

Fraught with danger and tension, Animal Kingdom makes waves in the gritty drama scene with intriguing family dynamics.

4/5

Review

Miss The Sopranos? Meet the Codys. The family-affair crime syndicate is set to turn devious manipulation into an art. Adapted from David Michôd’s critically acclaimed film, Animal Kingdom presents a suburban underworld thriving in plain view, where Janine ‘Smurf’ Cody (Ellen Barkin) leads the pack.

The story begins the same way, with the matriarch adopting her teenage grandson J (Finn Cole) after his mother dies of a heroin overdose. J eases into the shady family business, where his uncle Baz (Scott Speedman) calls the shots. That is until Janine’s eldest son Pope (Shawn Hatosy) returns from prison, looking to regain his hold on the reins.

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Series Review: Stranger Things (2016)

Stranger Things (dir. Duffer Brothers, 2016) – A young boy disappears in small town Hawkins. To find him, his family and friends are forced to confront unknown terrors…

Verdict

Taking cues from its 80s influences without falling into pastiche, Stranger Things stands as proof that there are far better alternatives to remakes.

5/5

Review

There is a new Stephen King classic that isn’t created by Stephen King. Matt and Ross Duffer are the Gans of the King-esque Stranger Things, a Netflix eight-parter that has gone to 11 where recent horror films hover at 10.

Set in 1983, the series follows the sudden disappearance of 12-year-old Will Byers, which sparks off strange happenings in Hawkins, Indiana. Joyce Byers hears whispers from the walls and believes her son is reaching out from a world beyond. Shadows of Videodrome and Poltergeist cast over the suburban tale of terror, as she soon hears him singing through the radio.

Three kids – Mike, Dustin and Lucas – join the desperate search for their missing friend. Instead, they find a young girl in their path. They come to know her as Eleven and grow interested in her secretive past. Therein lies answers that she does not know or dare to reveal.

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