Black Butterflies could well be in the running for dark horse contender of best shows released this year. Split across 6 episodes, this psychological thriller is beautifully written, with a haunting tone and a rock-solid screenplay that’ll keep you gripped right to the very end until the shocking climax.
Black Butterflies is one of those shows that will lull you into a false sense of security. On the surface, this looks like a very simple and perfunctory thriller, diving into the darkness of murder and deceit before bowing out without much aplomb.
When you dive a little deeper however, there’s a lot going on and if you stick with this one, Black Butterflies breaks free from its false cocooned persona to display a solid and astonishingly dark thriller.
The story is essentially split between two timelines, the past and the present, but largely centers in the present with our main protagonist, Adrien Winckler. After writing a popular novel, Adrien has been stuck in a slump. He’s got writer’s block, he’s struggling for inspiration and on the verge of spiralling out of control.
Thankfully, he receives a lifeline in the form of a call from a man named Albert Desiderio, a retired pensioner who hires him to write his memoirs. With the promise of 2000 euros before and another 2000 after, Adrien jumps at the chance of scoring a quick buck to tide him over until he can return to his writing.
As Adrien starts to explore Albert’s past though, what appears to be a simple love story soon take a turn for the dark and wild, as Albert’s history is revealed in all its bloody glory. As the chapters continue and Adrien becomes more and more engrossed in his work – and Albert’s story – he starts to realize the line between right and wrong has been blurred, and he struggle with his own psyche and moral code.
To give much more about this show would be a disservice but suffice to say, there’s a lot to like and a lovely final episode that really captures the essence of this series and harks back to the opening chapter’s subtle but powerful foreshadowing. I can imagine this is one of those shows that’s completely different to watch a second time through knowing what we know.
The complicated relationship between Albert and Adrien is what makes this so fascinating to watch and in many ways, echoes the old battle of minds we’ve seen in movies like The Silence of the Lambs in the past. This series definitely feels like it nods back to that famous thriller a few times, but it similarly carves its own place in the thriller genre.
While the past timeline and the relationship between characters is good, there are a few parts of this that hold it back from being a better watch.
A subplot running throughout involving a police investigation is largely relegated to the backburner and it never really stands out as anything other than window dressing and busywork. While one could argue it’s instrumental to how this one ends, given the gravity of the situation, it would have been nice to see a bit more urgency given to the storyline, intermingling that around the main plot a lot more to increase the tension a bit.
This is just a minor gripe though in what’s otherwise a really solid and well written thriller. The acting is great and the thematic relevance of butterflies and metamorphosis plays a huge role in the story too; a symbiotic way of merging the visuals and tone with the story. Black Butterflies is well worth a watch and is an absolutely rock-solid thriller.
Verdict - 8/10