Bool Hunt -| Review Score – 4/5
Blood Bool -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Under The Yum-Yum Tree -| Review Score – 3/5
Jim Dandy -| Review Score – 3.5/5
The Good Brother -| Review Score – 2/5
Now You Must Be Still -| Review Score – 2.5/5
No Light, No Spark -| Review Score – 2.5/5
Lisey’s Story -| Review Score – 3.5/5
Over the years there have been a litany of different movies and shows adapted from Stephen King’s vast repertoire of novels. Most recently we’ve seen CBS’s tepid remake of The Stand and HBO’s mysterious and enticing The Outsider; two completely contrasting stories of different fortunes.
Apple TV’s recent inclusion to the market is Lisey’s Story, King’s 2006 novel that released to mixed reviews. Some bemoaned the long and self-indulgent tone while others commended the slow burn pay-offs.
Naturally then, the decision to split this story across an 8 episode series and drip-feeding one episode a week was always going to reach the same verdict. And as such, a polarizing and slow-paced series is exactly what we get here.
Lisey’s Story is a thriller that toys with ideas of healing, mystery, revenge and horror, mixed up in a heady story exploring the secrets Lisey’s husband has been keeping from her since his death.
Lisey’s husband happens to be an author by the name of Scott Landon. A prolific writer, Scott’s troubled childhood and mysterious demeanour is only compounded further when he sends Lisey off on a “bool hunt” after his death. This is essentially a glorified treasure hunt, sending Lisey down a dark and treacherous path to uncover the truth. However, she’s not alone in this pursuit.
Scott’s fanbase also brings with it a stalker by the name of Jim Dooley. He’s dead-set on recovering Scott’s work for himself and claims that Scott belongs to him. There’s certainly elements of King’s novel Misery in this possessiveness, and the longer the show goes on for, the more prominent to the story he becomes.
Across the episodes Lisey learns more about Scott’s past, a bizarre fantasy world called Boo’Ya Moon and a monstrous soul-eater by the name of the Long Boy. This eventually sees Lisey receive the answers she’s been looking for, while simultaneously discovering more about her sister Amanda, who’s in a catatonic state.
While there is fantasy in this, Lisey’s Story is ultimately a slow-burn, supernatural healing drama, one that hones in on ideas of acceptance and moving past grief to better one’s own life. It’s certainly a touching sentiment, but boy does this show make you wait for the pay-offs.
The hour-long finale is certainly one of the better episodes here, but it’s not enough to overshadow what’s otherwise a long, laborious trip through weirdness to get these answers. Even then, the answers we receive – while satisfying enough – don’t quite do enough to make the road traveled worth bearing.
It’s particularly disappointing because the characters themselves are a real mixed bag of quality. None of them are particularly charismatic either, while the arcs they go on (including some contrived, illogical choices late on) lead to a passive indifference toward most of their fates.
That’s a shame because aesthetically Lisey’s Story is a gorgeous series. Along with the excellent opening credits, the show plays with a lot of interesting visual motifs, a distinct colour palette and a haunting soundtrack with wonderful hooks and mysterious string segments. It’s just a pity that the story takes so long to get to the good stuff.
That is ultimately Lisey’s Story’s biggest problem. This could so easily have been condensed down into a 5 episode pacey miniseries with the exact same effect. Instead, the aforementioned indulgence spills over from the novel to make a bloated series that never quite grips as hard as it should.
Sure, the show may have some stand-out moments but compared to other thrillers and mysteries released this year, Lisey’s Story sadly comes up short.
As a binge watch this will almost certainly fair better than a weekly endeavour, but even then the show doesn’t quite do enough to stand out. In the end, Lisey’s Story isn’t much of a page-turner.