TV SERIES REVIEW
Genre: Drama, Mystery, Thriller
Year Released: 2023 -
Runtime: 8 x 45m episodes
Developed by: Leila Gerstein
Cast: Alycia Debnam-Carey, Josh Bonzie, West Duchovny, Jayden Elijah, Bre Francis, Kenlee Anaya Townsend, Betsy Brandt, Michael Park
Where To Watch: premieres on Hulu on April 26, 2023
RAVING REVIEW: Hulu's latest venture, SAINT X, is a psychological thriller inspired by Alexis Schaitkin's novel. It follows the puzzling mystery of a young woman on a Caribbean vacation, which drives her sister to seek the truth. While I haven’t read the book, I could feel the roots of what the book would have been in following the series narrative.
The series plays with the idea of various timelines, switching around to tell the story and slowly uncover the details behind it all. SAINT X examines the events that lead to the tragic incident and the subsequent fallout. While I appreciate actively showing the two timelines, it also creates problematic issues when focusing on the characters. The accomplished cast, featuring Alycia Debnam-Carey as Emily, Josh Bonzie as Gogo, West Duchovny as Alison, and Jayden Elijah as Edwin, let the story shine as the performances become natural to the story instead of feeling forces.
Debnam-Carey's portrayal of Emily is mesmerizing but demands more depth as the plot advances. The visually stunning, exotic setting could have been utilized more effectively. Josh Bonzie's performance as Clive, a resort employee entangled in the aftermath of Alison's disappearance, steals the show. While the series addresses the discrimination and exploitation rife in the tourism industry, it could have delved deeper into Clive's character to challenge surface-level issues.
SAINT X would profit from honing its storytelling methods and adopting a fresh approach to conventional tropes. Greater emphasis on horror elements and dynamic visuals could have enhanced the overall impact. Moreover, the dialogue occasionally comes across as stiff, and some plot developments resemble the true-crime dramas the show critiques.
SAINT X weaves the lives of various characters, and this intentional back and forth creates false narratives, leading the viewer to believe something when that wasn’t the central focus. I think the unique take on the past vs. present was intriguing but ultimately hurt the series slightly. The bouncing around felt a bit jarring, but as a whole, I still really enjoyed the style used and the story being told.
Regrettably, SAINT X falls a little short of its potential. What begins as a promising premise has difficulty keeping that pace up over the extended runtime. This ultimately could have been edited down to a lengthy film runtime and accomplished most of the same endgame without so much filler. The series is still worth checking out for a binge or may work even better if you spread it out over days or weeks. That might help some of the redundancies feel less noticeable.
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[photo courtesy of HULU]