REVIEW: Strange Happenings (Series 1)

Strange happenings or just down right strange?

When YouTube vloggers Do You Nerd? recommend something, be it a series, a game or even the latest movie, it's hard not to take their advice and reach for your nearest device to binge watch whatever it is they are offering. A recent recommendation by the dynamic husband-and-wife duo, was the short, web-based series Strange Happenings.

Produced by American Wasteland Entertainment and supported by a cast of rising stars and well-established household names, the series is made up of five episodes, each running between 10 and 12 minutes long. It has all the beginnings of a classic suburban horror/thriller, a genre that has reached new heights in recent years due to Netflix favourites Riverdale and Stranger Things.

The series story begins with a female protagonist losing her job at her local tabloid for covering the supernatural rather than the day to day. Our leading lady Nicole wishes to be able to start her own online magazine, exploring all aspects of the dark and mysterious, and her dreams come true when a mysterious financer backs her idea ‘Strange Happenings’. But as she meets her employer’s creepy messenger, she realises there is more to this generous offering than meets the eye.

As if all this wasn’t enough to get your supernatural taste buds tingling, each episode is accompanied by a well-structured 1980s synthesised soundtrack, building your suspense with each beat. The right music of course is a necessary factor in any film or series, and can often help boost its overall ratings by leaving the viewer in a more generous mood.

So why is it struggling? Why, when speaking to people on the street, have they never heard of the breakthrough series? And why has it only managed to accumulate just over 2,200 views in over 11 months?

Arguably, lack of advertisement and it only being available through one media platform may have a lot to do with the series's lack of success, at least in terms of viewing figures and audience reach. But after watching it thoroughly, the cracks appear to go deeper than a stretched PR team.

From the beginning of the very first episode, you are thrust into the life of protagonist Nicole Tessler (Hannah Duncan) following her day-to-day life and her rapid involvement in the paranormal. Unfortunately, however, by the end of the series you are still left feeling more akin to strangers than acquaintances, through lack of character development and cohesiveness.

Family members and friends are thrust upon you like last minute plans, as if in a vain attempt to humanise Nicole. Accompanied by forced humour and a personality that fluctuates quicker than the weather, this makes it especially hard to relate to her character and become more deeply involved in her story.

Also, there are some massive continuity issues and plot holes. I am aware of the limitations with which low-budget productions are often faced, but therefore the finer details must be perfected. You can’t have markings on the floor in one scene and then to have them disappearing in the next, nor can you have a creature of lore lying in the street and have no-one addressing it, especially in a supernatural-themed show! It just leaves the audience feeling further confusion instead of the intended satisfaction.

However, credit where credit is due, the settings, camerawork and supporting cast all make up the redeemable qualities of this series. And I can’t deny that the curiosity in me that wishes to see where this concept would go if executed properly. After all, with all the issues addressed it will make for a truly electrifying series. Will, there be a series 2? Who knows, stranger things have happened.

Written by Melanie Whitlock

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