REVIEW- Requiem, Episode 1: BBC Supernatural thriller strikes perfect balance between bumps in the night and brutal realism

If there is one thing that TV is not short of, it’s ‘missing child mysteries’ and shows about suspicious rural towns; Dark, Stranger Things, Top of the Lake, The Returned, the list goes on. So what can BBC’s new supernatural thriller Requiem offer us on top of that? Judging by its gripping first episode, a whole lot more.

Directed by Mahalio Belo, Requiem’s 6-part mystery gets off to a shocking start when Matilda (Lydia Wilson), a young and incredibly successful Cellist, is confronted with her mother’s violent suicide right in front of her eyes before the opening of her latest recital. With no reasoning behind her mum’s strange behaviour and tragic death, Matilda is left on a quest for answers.

A rummage through her mother’s things leads Matilda to a box of newspaper cuttings and photographs, from a missing child’s case from 1994, 4 year-old Carys Howell. In a desperate search for some explanation of her mother’s suicide, she ventures to the rural Welsh village where Carys went missing, and stumbles upon a handful of characters who she could connect to her mother and the strange way she behaved on the evening of her death.

Requiem’s first episode’s greatest feat is its precise ability to maintain a looming sense of uncertainty and quiet dread in just about every scene it presents us with, from striking visuals with no explanation right off the bat, to heightened sounds of wailing and shouting coming through CD players and behind locked doors. Matilda’s own nightmares are featured extensively, a repetitive lucid dream featured a stone-walled passage, a trap door, and a little girl lurking behind it. This interchange between dreams and reality evokes a moody supernatural twist that you can’t wait to see unravel, and the episode plods along smoothly with its one hour runtime leaving just enough questions and answers to wet the appetite and ready yourself for a full-blown binging session.

In terms of Friday night viewing, this may seem a little dark and creepy for your regular end-of-the-week schedule, but there is no denying that supernatural shows are a hit, and so are true crime. Requiem manages to marry the two perfectly, images of Carys Howell in the newspaper clippings are an all-too familiar reminder of high profile British cases such as Madeline McCann, and the idyllic British setting with rolling fields and looming manor houses give off serious Wicker Man vibes, throw in some surprisingly graphic violence in some scenes that would turn any stomach it makes it a must-see for any type of horror fan. A cliff-hanger ending sees Matilda’s entire world turn upside down, with her identity and sanity handing in the balance.

The show’s direction still seems uncertain at the end of the first episode, but that makes it all the more intriguing, will this be a show more rooted in realistic creepy stalker murderer story lines or completely supernatural and a flurry of bumps in the night?

You can find out when Requiem airs on BBC One February 2nd, or on Netflix at the end of the month.


by Chloe Leeson

Chloe Leeson is the founder of Screenqueens. She is 22 and from the north of England (the proper north). She believes Harmony Korine is the future and is pretty sure she coined the term ‘selfie central’. She doesn’t like Pina Coladas or getting caught in the rain but she does like Ezra Miller a whole lot. Her favourite films are Into The Wild, The Beach and Lords of Dogtown. She rants about cinema screenings @kawaiigoff.

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