A Series of Unfortunate Events
If viewers are looking to escape the January gloom, then Netflix’s A Series of Unfortunate Events is certainly no remedy for it. Bleak, macabre and devoid of light, a new take on fictional author Lemony Snicket’s (Daniel Handler) world has been brought to life. After disappointment and criticism surrounding the 2004 film adaptation of the series, Netflix worked directly with Handler and did not stray away from the gravitas of the original stories. It is no wonder that the audience is repeatedly warned in the theme song to “look away”.
The show is an adaptation of the popular tragicomic 13-book series that was published between 1999 and 2006. Think Grimm’s Fairy Tales with a Dickensian twist: three orphans in a miserable world where adults behave like children and children behave like adults. How I Met Your Mother’s Neil Patrick Harris impressively stars as the nefarious, melodramatic villain Count Olaf, previously played in a clown-like manner by Jim Carrey. What Harris successfully manages to do is capture the real eeriness of the antagonist’s character, which Carrey lacked. Harris’s performance is both disturbing and ridiculous and although he is amusing at times, he is not to be laughed at.
The Gothic backdrops, shots in muted colours, and constant references to literary techniques will undoubtedly appeal to fans of the books. In some instances, the overuse of melodrama does not work but rather further blurs the boundaries between tragedy and farce. Above all, the viewer is uncertain as to what extent they have been watching the former or the latter. This is the tantalising question that pervades the series.
Still, with decent performances, puzzles, and an enchanting score by James Newton Howard, A Series of Unfortunate Events can only get better. The series has already been renewed for a second season. For those who take an interest in conspiracies, eye-imagery, literary devices and theatre, this is a show that is not to be missed. It is pitched perfectly between sentimental melancholy and intangible unease – a feeling that any viewer would find difficult to shake off.
A Series of Unfortunate Events is released on Netflix on 13th January 2017.
Watch the trailer for A Series of Unfortunate Events here: