Truth Seekers is the latest collaboration from Nick Frost and Simon Pegg and centres around employees of a network services provider who run a YouTube channel as amateur paranormal investigators.
The series follows Gus Roberts (Nick Frost), the top installation engineer for network provider Smyle. He lives with his dad (Malcolm McDowell) and investigates paranormal activities in his spare time, running his own YouTube channel as ‘The Truth Seeker’. His boss Dave (Simon Pegg) pairs Gus with a new employee Elton John (Samson Kayo), and Truth Seekers follows the pair as they increasingly encounter paranormal and mysterious entities as they go about their daily work, including a haunted young woman called Astrid (Emma D’Arcy).
Truth Seekers starts off as a case by episode series, with a new spooky encounter every time (think Supernatural but very British) and then mid-way works into a bigger overall plot involving Julian Barratt’s Dr Peter Toynbee that seems to tie all the earlier elements together. As a supernatural horror show, this works really well. It doesn’t rely on typical jump scares, and instead uses well-known horror situations to be as creepy as possible. Admittedly this is a tad cliched – think of all the known supernatural experiences you’d expect to see (psychiatric hospitals, hotels, demons and satanic books to name a few) and you’ll definitely find them here. However, this doesn’t matter as they’re done well and in such a smart, creepy and very British way. Even the special effects are impressive for something that looks like it should be fairly low budget.
Whilst this is made out to be a horror-comedy, it’s the comedy side that appears to be a little lacking. Don’t get me wrong, this has its’s funny and witty moments and seems to relish all of the pop culture references it throws in at every opportunity, however, it doesn’t seem quite as edgy and quick-witted as Frost and Pegg’s previous collaborations. Frost delivers his usual deadpan style well and is ably supported by Samson Kayo’s Elton as his rather adorable and unwitting partner. The standout though is unsurprisingly Malcolm McDowell as Gus’ dad Richard. Right from the first episode McDowell shines and is an absolute riot. Every scene he’s in gives rise to so many laughs and in particular, there’s one scene featuring him going upstairs on a stairlift so slowly that nearly had me crying with laughter. But despite this, the humour is maybe a little lacking from what we’d expect. I also felt like some of the pop culture references were a little forced and unnatural, which is a shame as there were also a lot that worked quite well – nods to Aliens and The Shawshank Redemption were particularly appreciated.
Truth Seekers may be lacking a little in humour, but what is there is adeptly delivered by a rather stellar cast. Pegg takes a backseat as boss Dave with an atrocious hairpiece and there are some small roles for Kelly MacDonald, Susis Wokoma and Julian Barratt, but everyone puts in a great performance no matter the screen time. McDowell undoubtedly steals the show, but the main trio of Frost, Kayo and D’Arcy carry the show well between them.
What surprised me the most about Truth Seekers is how short it was. A mere eight episodes running at 30 minutes each doesn’t seem like enough – by the end of the eighth episode, I was shocked to see there wasn’t any more, although the final scenes do at least set this up for a second series that will hopefully come to fruition. I was a little concerned about the main plot involving Toynbee as it did get a little convoluted towards the end, and the final scenes do nothing but add to this and hint at a much bigger story going on. This could end up being rather good, but it could also turn what is by and large a very enjoyable British supernatural series into something rather crazy and confused. Only series two will tell.
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