A Philadelphia couple is in mourning after an unspeakable tragedy creates a rift in their marriage and opens the door for a mysterious force to enter their home.
I’ve heard many things about Tony Basgallop’s Servant ever since its first season debuted on streaming service Apple TV+ back in November of 2019, most of it being fairly good. Its first episode is directed by M. Night Shyamalan (one of my all-time favorite filmmakers) and he additionally serves as an executive producer on the show.
So even I am surprised that I waited this long to check out Servant, but seeing as how the show’s second season premieres this Friday, I figured now would be the best time to finally watch it all. And I did. I binged the whole season in about two days and I was happy to see that it definitely is an entertaining experience for the most part, even if it has some big flaws.
The biggest problem I have with this first season is that it simply takes far, far, too long to get interesting. I would honestly say that the first five or six episodes feel like a build-up and almost like a prelude to the actual story. Episodes seven to ten are remarkably better than the six that precede it. Don’t get me wrong – the first six episodes aren’t bad, they just feel like there’s something missing in them.
But what keeps these episodes afloat is excellent direction, creepy and unsettling atmosphere, incredible cinematography, and amazing performances from the entire cast. For the most part, Servant takes place inside one location – the Turners’ house. And boy, is the Turner household creepy. It feels like it’s harboring dark secrets and the little pieces of information we get each episode are great fun to learn about.
Jarin Blaschke’s cinematography feels extremely claustrophobic and bleak in all the best ways. This house is supposed to feel foreign to us even if we spend ten whole episodes in that location. The house is supposed to feel disturbing and sinister, and Blaschke certainly pulled it off.
But as I mentioned earlier, Servant‘s best aspect is without a doubt its performances. I cannot understate how truly fantastic the lead performances are throughout this season. Lauren Ambrose feels incredibly unhinged and cold in each episode. In Servant, Dorothy (Lauren Ambrose) and Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell) hire a young nanny named Leanne (Nell Tiger Free) six weeks after the death of their newborn son, to take care of their reborn baby doll. The thing is, there are some instances in Servant in which the doll actually moves and acts like a real baby. But… that can’t be. Right? Servant explores this question in an unsettling and chilling way and Ambrose’s character is convinced that the baby, Jericho, is indeed real, while her husband Sean is convinced it isn’t real.
And the babysitter Leanne seems to think that it’s real just like Dorothy thinks because she does absolutely everything she can to make sure Jericho is protected. She takes him on walks every day, feeds him, changes his diaper, and does everything that a typically babysitter/nanny would do. But Leanne definitely gives off some unwelcome vibes to the Turner household. Throughout the whole season, the Turners are completely unsure as to what is really going on with Leanne, and we have no idea either. Each episode leaves breadcrumbs for us to follow, and it’s mostly entertaining to follow said crumbs.
I just wish that there was more punch and thrill in this first outing. Make no mistake about it – this is definitely not a horror show. I would classify Servant as a mystery-thriller. There’s definitely horror elements to this story, but it’s mainly a thriller. A thriller that works well, mind you. But if you’re somebody that wants something crazy to happen every other scene, Servant is going to let you down tremendously. But if you’re okay with watching a slow-burning build into creepiness, Servant will be greatly enjoyable for you.
Overall Grade: B
Created by: Tony Basgallop
Network: Apple TV+