Baby Reindeer Review

REVIEW: Baby Reindeer

Baby Reindeer is the latest British drama series to hit our screens on Netflix. The dark and disturbing series has become an overnight success with critics and viewers, and while I’m normally loathe to believe the hype, with this it’s definitely justified.

The series is based on the true life story of comedian Richard Gadd, here starring as fictional character Donny Dunn. Donny is an aspiring comedian with questionable success, who works as a barman during the day and lives in a houseshare with his ex-girlfriend’s mum Liz (Nina Sosanya). One day a bereft-looking woman called Martha (Jessica Gunning) comes into the pub and sits at the bar, claiming she can’t afford to buy a drink. Feeling sorry for her, Donny gives her a cup of tea on the house.

Baby Reindeer Review

Evidently moved by Donny’s kindness, Martha becomes a regular at the pub from the very next day. Turning up first thing, claiming she’s a busy lawyer, yet spends all day at the bar regaling Donny with stories whilst never paying for a drink. It isn’t long before Martha becomes obsessed with Donny, becoming flirtatious, believing he is her boyfriend, calling him Baby Reindeer and sending him hundreds of emails, often dirty, every day. Donny is initially fascinated by Martha and her lies and obsession, however when he tries to put her firmly in the friend zone, Martha has an outburst that changes his attitude towards her.

Baby Reindeer Review

Martha later turns up to one of Donny’s comedy shows, inadvertently making it a success with her interruptions. Following this, she adds Donny on Facebook, who despite his reservations, accepts Martha’s friend request. From then on Martha’s behaviour escalates, following Donny everywhere and questioning everybody he sees and talks to, causing him to hide his budding relationship with trans therapist Teri (Nava Mau). It doesn’t take long for Martha’s behaviour to become even more sinister, as Donny contemplates getting the police involved when she starts threatening his friends and family.

Other than the fact that this was about a stalker, I knew nothing else about Baby Reindeer so I was shocked to see it was based on a true story. And I became even more shocked as the series went on and the story unfolded. This is probably one of the most disturbing and scary things I’ve seen in a long time, scarier than any horror film and even more so when you consider the fact that it’s a true story. Gadd doesn’t shy away from showing the worst of his story, from his horrific experience of sexual abuse to his own actions and inactions with Martha, and it makes for a truly fascinating watch.

Baby Reindeer Review

The performances are brilliant too. Gadd is incredibly engaging and vulnerable despite his flaws, and you can’t help but feel both sorry for him and rather frustrated at some of his behaviour too. And Jessica Gunning is impressive as Martha, never before have I felt so terrified of someone who looks so unassuming, and yet with her too she excels in making you feel pity for Martha despite her disgraceful behaviour.

In a way, Baby Reindeer is like a horror film. From the overall aesthetics that feel unsettling and uncomfortable to the general tense and creepy atmosphere that builds as the story progresses, this is certainly one of the most distressing shows I’ve ever seen and made even more so by the subject material. There is a lot of hard-hitting material here, a lot of stress and pain and there isn’t much in the way of relief. While I think it’s incredibly important that this show depicts what it does, the sheer heaviness of the material begins to frustrate a little after a while and even the ending doesn’t help lighten things.

Overall Baby Reindeer is a horrifying, disturbing and fascinating watch that, despite its heavier moments, will certainly stick in your mind for quite some time.

Where to Watch

Baby Reindeer | April 11, 2024 (United Kingdom) 8.2


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