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Movies & TV

Truth Seekers (2020)

Truth Seekers is a british horror comedy series that recently made its debut on Amazon Prime. It is a short and sweet series, weighing in at about 4 hours total, so I imagine my review will be the same. Not 4 hours long, I meant short and sweet. Possibly my shortest yet.

Before we start talking about Truth Seekers, we need to address the sci-fi classic, and one of my personal favourite series, The X-Files. No, we aren’t here to discuss how dashingly handsome David Duchovny. Believe me, I could talk about that all day. No, we are here to talk about Darin Morgan and his role within the series. Stay with me for this, it all comes back to Truth Seekers, I promise.

Morgan originally started work on The X-Files as an actor, playing the rule of the Flukeman from the 1994 episode The Host (Season 2, Episode 2). Morgan did not enjoy this experience, but his brother, Glen, was the writer of the episode. This lead to more work for Morgan.

He co-wrote the very next episode, Blood (Season 2, Episode 3) with his brother. It was generally well received, with critics praising its absurd and frightening nature. This episode had the ability to terrify its audience. It also had the ability to make them laugh. This relationship between horror and comedy would be come a signature writing style for Morgan, who was soon placed as a full-time writer for the show.

Humbug (Season 2, Episode 12) was his first episode written solo and it did not disappoint. It had his signature blend of horror and comedy. Absurdity and terror. Quirky and gruesome. Clyde Bruckman’s Final Repose (Season 3, episode 4) was next. It is generally considered to be one of the best episodes of the whole series and won numerous awards. War of the Coprophages (Season 3, Episode 12), Jose Chung’s From Outer Space (Season 3, Episode 20 and possible funniest episode ever) and Quagmire (Season 3, Episode 22) were his final episodes before departing The X-Files.

Sorry, I geeked out a bit then. The point I’m making is the Darin Morgan episodes had a lasting impact on sci-fi nerds all around the world. Nerds like me. Nerds like you. And, most importantly of all, at least for this article, are nerds like Nick Frost and Simon Pegg. Frost and Pegg lived together during the prime run of The X-Files. Obviously, they were big fans and like most people who religiously watched The X-Files, the Darin Morgan episodes stood out.

And now we can make our way back to Truth Seekers. It is very clear that they were heavily inspired by Darin Morgan – the perfect combination of humour and horror. Pegg said “the key to horror comedy is to take the horror completely seriously and allow the comedy to exist adjacent to it”. I agree completely. Ash Vs The Evil Dead is a recent example of a show that nailed that formula.

There is a reason I don’t usually watch trailers. In my defense, I wasn’t expecting this trailer to come on (damn you, Amazon!) and I stopped watching it after about 30 seconds. The damage was already done. My expectations were through the roof. It looked like a creepy show and it had Pegg/Frost. It was set up to be an excellent horror comedy. It was a double edged sword though, if I hadn’t seen the trailer, I wouldn’t have heard of this show.

Maybe I’m remembering The X-Files with feelings of nostalgia and the belief that it could do no wrong, particularly the early seasons. Especially the Darin Morgan episodes. Maybe I’m allowing my high expectations of a show to ruin it, and therefore give it a lower review. Just because it failed to live up to my impossibly high hopes. Both of these things are likely completely true.

Anyway, I said it was set up to be an excellent horror comedy and in a way, it was. If I went in blind like I normally do, I probably would have enjoyed this a lot more. This sounds like my review is a negative one. It’s not, the show is very good. It’s just more of a 7, when I was expecting a 9 or even a 10.

I’m considering watching it again, now that my expectations have been tempered. It will probably score higher. I just feel that the horror aspect was off the mark. I also feel that it would have benefitted from longer episodes. Give the horror a chance to breathe a little. Let some atmosphere and tension build. Everything just moved so fast and it was over like that.

The comedy was excellent though. It had some genuinely funny jokes or moments. At least to me, my fiancé didn’t seem to find the same things as funny. She is more into toilet humour and slapstick. I loved Bjorn and his inability to not cuss, “three…of the fuckers”. When Elton John admitted his name was fake (duh), only to reveal his real name was Lionel Ritchie and to follow it up with a “Hello”. Hysterical.

The plot was fairly light hearted, but it certainly managed to squeeze in some darker and more gruseome moments. Basically, Gus, an engineer for SMYLE (a network provider, not a dentist) is partnered up with the new guy, Elton John. He is resistant at first, but the two quickly become friends. Gus brings Elton in on his side gig, Truth Seekers, a YouTube show he runs about paranormal investigations. Gus is a coward and not particularly interested in the paranormal. Along the way we meet Astrid, a seemingly haunted girl who joins the crew. We are also introduced to Helen, an agoraphobic cosplayer. Most important of all, we meet Gus’ father-in-law, Richard. He is an absolute delight and is almost certainly a future version of me.

The gang team up to take down the villainous, Dr. Peter Toynbee. Toynbee is played by Julian Barratt. Am I the only person in the world who feels like Julian Barratt looks more like a Noel Fielding and Noel Fielding looks like a Julian Barratt? Know what I mean? I feel like their names should be swapped. Anyway, Noel Fielding isn’t in this show, but it is something that crosses my mind every time I see one of these two. I suppose this paragraph is a sign I should wrap this review up.

Truth Seekers is a short and enjoyable show. It has the same sense of humour you would find in films like Shaun of the Dead, which is not a surprise given the cast. The horror aspect left a little to be desired, but was overall pretty good. Definitely give it a watch, you can get it done in a night or two. For me, I think it was just marketed wrong. If you told me it was a sci-fi comedy, not a horror comedy, I would have expected less from the spooky side of things. Still, it was a good show, go give it a watch!

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