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REVIEW: Are demons the new vampires?

ARMY OF ME - The Philippine Star
REVIEW: Are demons the new vampires?
From Misfits creator Howard Overman comes Crazyhead, a new horror comedy series about two twentysomethings battling both real and personal demons.

Over the centuries, authors such as Dante Alighieri have piqued our interest by presenting vivid trips through the afterlife. How would the medieval Italian poet and philosopher react to the fact that, fast forward to the present, those tales set in hell now occasionally come with boob jokes?

Crazyhead is the latest — and very British — addition to the TV supernatural genre. Broadcast on the UK’s E4, the horror comedy features Cara Theobold — an English actress whose first big role was playing Ivy Stuart in Downton Abbey — as a bowling-alley attendant battling both real and personal demons. When she meets fellow twentysomething Raquel — essayed by Susan Wokoma, last seen in the comedy series Chewing Gum — the two realize that they share a gift. The duo then hunts down the forces of darkness lurking in the streets, performing an exorcism or two along the way.

That Crazyhead was written by Howard Overman, BAFTA-winning creator of 2009’s Misfits, should solidify its appeal among viewers with a taste for dark comedy. Overman has admitted that the idea for the show was inspired by a sexist catcalling incident he witnessed in London.

From Vampires to Demons

After vampires, werewolves, witches, ghosts and zombies, these days the television landscape seems to be, well, more demonic. Following the CW’s long-running Supernatural are newer shows such as Damien, a reimagining of the classic horror film The Omen; the comic book adaptation Preacher; and Outcast, which revolves around a man who has been surrounded by demonic possession his entire life.

The 1973 classic The Exorcist has likewise been retooled for the small screen, a move that Variety has called “more than just another attempt to capitalize on the box office of an established property.” There, too, is Shadowhunters, a fantasy television series based on Cassandra Clare’s The Mortal Instruments; it’s about humans born with angelic blood who protect humans from demons.

As far as the more lighthearted ones go, Crazyhead joins the likes of Lucifer, headlined by Tom Ellis who, as the original fallen angel, retires to Los Angeles after becoming dissatisfied with his life in hell. Adult Swim’s Your Pretty Face Is Going To Hell, meanwhile, is a newish live-action workplace comedy that follows Gary, an associate demon, as he attempts to climb the corporate ladder of the underworld by capturing souls on earth. The short-lived Reaper, which aired from 2007 to 2009, also had a similar premise: Its main character Sam Oliver worked for the Devil by retrieving souls that have escaped from hell.

While it may appear that this new breed of supernatural saga is a far cry from ’90s shows such as Charmed, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, all of which involved vanquishing the forces of evil on some level, it remains to be seen whether the latest version of the subgenre will fare well enough for it to be hailed as a full-fledged TV trend. (Remember that NBC’s Constantine was cancelled after only one season.)

See, in the digital age, there’s definitely one thing more frightening than demons, something Dante Alighieri never had to worry about: ratings.

DANTE ALIGHIERI

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