The Shorter Way – | Review Score – 3/5
The Graveyard of What Might Be – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The Gas Mask Man – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The House of Sleep – | Review Score – 3.5/5
The Wraith – | Review Score – 3/5
The Dark Tunnels – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Scissors for the Drifter – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Parnassus – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Sleigh House – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Gunbarrel – | Review Score – 3.5/5
Based on the popular book of the same name, NOS4A2 is an engrossing, well written horror series, one that manages to do well with its cast, even if it is held back a few plot hiccups and mediocre episodes along the way. With an inspired Zachary Quinto at the helm, the characters do well to instill their mark on this series, with a cliffhanger ending and unresolved plot points leaving things wide open for a second season to follow.
The story itself follows Vic McQueen, a teenager who learns early on that she possesses a special gift; she’s able to transport herself wherever she desires via a mysterious bridge called The Shorter Way. Guided by the scrabble tiles of Maggie, Vic finds herself coming up against the monstrous Charlie Manx, a demonic man hell bent on “saving” children by taking them to the fabled Christmas Land where he can feed on their energy.
As the series progresses, the balance of power shifts leading to Manx recruiting the school’s janitor Bing as his right hand man while Vic is pushed to breaking point. All of this builds up to the aforementioned open ending with big question marks hanging over the direction the show is likely to go next.
Stylistically, NOS4A2 begins as a pure horror series, with some pretty decent horror vibes and an eerie, unsettling premise. As the series progresses, the horror does fall by the wayside for a more straight forward drama to play out and it’s here where the show excels. While some of the episodes do feel a little bit like filler, especially the latter episodes before the finale, NOS4A2 as a collective whole is a really engaging show.
Having not read the book myself it’s difficult to gauge how well the source material has been adapted but the blend of Christmas elements to the setting and tone of the series is surprisingly good. A lot of that is thanks to Zachary Quinto whose charismatic performance as the young (and old) Charlie Manx does enough to push forward the scenes he stars in.
The memorable characters and interesting quirks they all possess help show the flaws in each of the characters and late on there’s some surprisingly good drama as Vic’s family life begins to unravel, especially with the threat of Manx breathing down her neck.
NOS4A2 is one of those series that’s actually better to watch as a 2 or 3 night binge rather than waiting every week for the next episode. It’s not an exhausting watch but the story leads on so seamlessly that it actually enhances the story to watch in one go, especially during the aforementioned filler episodes.
With a second season already green-lit and the series growing in strength as the episodes tick by, the prospect of more NOS4A2 is a very tantalizing prospect indeed. Given the surprisingly well written drama late on in this first season, I’d imagine we’ve still got plenty of dramatic moments to come.
It’s not the best horror out there but it is a consistency enjoyable one, a show that’s certainly worthy of a second season, even if I personally would have preferred a few plot threads resolved this side of the first season break. It’s a minor gripe but if you’re on the fence with this one, NOS4A2 does get better as the series goes on and it’s well worth sticking with until the end.
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Verdict - 7.5/10