Oh Helix, you really know my tunes.
The freshman Syfy horror-drama just ended up its first run of episodes and it did it in a romantic note.
For those of you who haven’t had the pleasure, Helix, produced by Battlestar Galactica‘s Ronald D. Moore (how could you?!), deals with the story of a group of scientists who are sent to the Arctic Pole, to a secret research complex, in order to find a cure for a new disease that turns people into a kind of drooling zombies called ‘vectors’. In other words, The Thing meets 28 Days Later. The problem with the show is that… it sucks. Mostly horrible acting and even worse writing are its trademarks, but here it’s where it gets interesting since not only the shows acknowledges its problems but it embraces them creating a sort of B-series.
While American Horror Story imitates art house horror films style, Helix is influenced by the Grindhouse, the “so bad that it’s good” kind, and makes of it its main virtue. The use of contrapuntal music is crucial in its particular style, with extremely grotesque scenes mixed with chiptunes in an attempt of creating an unsettling atmosphere… or maybe just for the fun of it. Just have a look to the quirky bossa nova themed opening:
Or in the final minutes of its last episode, Dans L’Ombre where after a pregnancy announcement, an explosion that destroyed the whole complex, the killing of a character we just got to meet (what was the point?), and a head rolling on the floor of a helicopter… Helix flashforwards to a beautiful Paris enlivened by Le Temps de L’Amour to leave us with a crazy cliffhanger, because, obviously, it wasn’t gonna leave quietly.
Unfortunately, being cool with sucking doesn’t make it less true. Most of the actors including Billy Campbell (The Killing) in the main role, Dr. Alan Farragut, are quite limited or the material they have to work with is VERY limited, like Neil Napier as Dr. Peter Farragut who had to play a sick man, a vector (the usual zombie), a man in a coma, back to vector, and in the finale we discovered that while he was doing all these things he was the traitor infiltrated within the good guys, insane. But we also need to give it a little credit for an interesting photography, with some impressive depth of field tricks, and production design as well as trying to stretch our “horizon of expectations” towards the horror genre. If next year could correct its writing problems without losing its comedy touch, Helix could become something between the guilty pleasure and a trans-genre series, a different form of entertainment in our current television context.