Episode 1 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 2 -| Review Score – 4/5
Episode 3 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 4 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 5 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 6 -| Review Score –3.5/5
Episode 7 -| Review Score –4/5
The Midwich Cuckoos is another remake, adapted from the 1957 novel of the same name. For film buffs, you may recognize this from the big screen adaptations of ‘Village of the Damned’ from 1960 and then again in 1995.
Before you throw this one out as another half-arsed remake/requel/sequel though, this TV adaptation is a very different beast altogether, despite sharing the same hallmarks that made those that have come before so enjoyable.
Just to preface this review, there will be people who jump all over this series and immediately write it off, classing it as “woke”, pointing out that a multicultural cast changes the way these kids have been portrayed in the past.
Gone are the similar-looking blonde-haired kids and similar looking facial expressions and instead, we’ve got ordinary kids and a much more grounded feel.
But is The Midwich Cuckoos worth watching despite those changes? Having watched all 7 episodes, I’d have to say it absolutely is. If you can go into this with a fresh mindset and see this as a completely different proposition to what we’ve seen before, then it’s far easier to slip into without harking back to what’s come before.
Unlike the awful remake of The Stand, which took decent horror material and spun that into whatever the heck that disastrous series was, The Midwich Cuckoos actually feels pretty tonally satisfying without completely butchering the story along the way.
The pacing is one of the biggest differences, which is perhaps obvious given there’s so much run-time to play with. What this more deliberate, slower pace does, is allow for a far creepier and atmospheric gloom to nestle over the town of Midwich.
This also has the effect of allowing the adults and kids to be fleshed out a lot more, understanding their family dynamics and getting invested in their endeavours. There’s a good amount of variation with each of the couples too, with everything from teen mums to heavily religious mothers faced with this inexplicable situation.
If there’s one gripe I have though is that the couples themselves aren’t always explored in that much detail. Despite the pacing slowing in the middle, some couples – like a sleazy MP and his estranged wife – are prominent early on and then disappear completely at the end. It’s perhaps the one casualty with this show, given how many characters are being juggled.
To backtrack for those not familiar with the source material and completely lost with the review thus far (apologies to those people!), The Midwich Cuckoos is set in the middle of a small, fictional village in England that’s taken over by a strange alien presence.
After a blackout, everyone passes out, only for the women to awaken in the morning to find themselves pregnant. The authorities can’t figure it out and as the pregnancy advances, it soon becomes clear that there’s something horribly wrong here.
The kids are born, sport strange yellow eyes at sporadic intervals, and as they grow up, those in the village find their very existence threatened.
As one may expect, there are some time-jumps to flesh all of this out, with the opening introduction showing a pretty unnerving moment from the finale and then jumping back in time 5 years to reach that point. It’s a framing technique used in many other shows too and The Midwich Cuckoos actually does a pretty decent job of it.
Some of this eeriness (which actually continues most of the way through the show to be fair) can be attributed to the sound design. The music and score in this is actually really solid and the orchestral chimes work an absolute treat.
Although on that same subject, the opening credits to this show feels really… underwhelming, which is a bit of a shame. I can’t help but feel that, given the theme of the show, a slow-tracking camera through the streets of the village, windows illuminated by the yellow eyes of the children, may have been a better choice. But then I’m not writing this show so take this idea with a pinch of salt.
On that same subject though, the visuals are pretty decent and there are one or two really beautiful shots that deserve to be commended. When all the women are simultaneously giving birth, the camera and general filming through this whole sequence is absolutely fantastic. Likewise, there are a few moments late on that feel like homages to other movies (especially The Shining!) and it’s a nice way of bridging everything together, even if it is a bit on the nose at times.
If you can go into this one and separate it from Village of the Damned and the novel of the same name, seeing this as a separate entity altogether, you’re bound to enjoy this a lot more.
The diverse cast works well in the context of the series, there’s a great deal of compelling acting from the child actors and the story itself develops into a beautiful crescendo of action and tension at the end.
Overall, The Midwich Cuckoos is a nice reimagining of a very familiar story, with a good pacing across the 7 episodes. It’s perhaps a tad overlong, sagging a bit in the middle chapters, but there’s some good material here nonetheless.
There’s certainly plenty to whet the appetite and fans of horrors and thrillers should get enough out of this. It’s not perfect but it’s definitely worth watching.
Verdict - 7.5/10