They’re coming to get you…
Writer: Jack Thorne
Director: Farren Blackburn
THE ONE WHERE Awkward schoolboy Paul (Iain De Caestecker) hears gunshots in a disused shopping centre, and discovers there might be more to his bad dreams that he first though.
VERDICT The Fades is off to a fantastic start, with a gripping first episode that is shocking, tense and funny all at the same time. Paul and his best mate Mac (Daniel Kaluuya) are an instantly likeable duo, one serious and shy, the other full of gags and film references, and its a great bit of casting, the two of them feeling like a real, natural friendship. That Paul is every bit as concerned about looking cool in front of girls and learning to smoke as he is with his visions of the undead help ground him as a believably hormonal teenager, and his park bench smoke-off was every inch as cringe-worthy as is should have been.
There’s a lot of lore to be absorbed here, but things aren’t ever allowed to get too exposition heavy as Paul begins to learn about the strange things he sees. The Fades themselves have the potential to be genuinely frightening, and this isn’t a show afraid to bump off cast members with wild abandon, lending proceedings an air of unpredictable malevolence. There are intriguing ideas in abundance – like the ‘passing places’ that the dead used to head to in order to pass over to whatever lies ‘beyond’ being increasingly rare thanks to humans concreting over everything – and you get the feeling that there’s a lot more of this to come.
Of the adult cast, Johnny Harris is superb as the warrior-like Neil, and the scene where he straps himself in to be healed after an eye-watering encounter with a Fade hammers home the reality of the conflict. Fans of Miranda ’s Tom Ellis will be pleased to know that his shirt is off within minutes of him appearing on screen, although to be fair, his character – wise-cracking history teacher Mark – is much more than a torso. With his ex going missing, he's going to have a lot more on his hands than teaching the Holocaust to disinterested 16 year-olds. Daniella Nardini doesn’t have an awful lot to do, but you can’t really argue with a gun-toting vicar, and she gets the biggest gross-out moment of the whole episode post-healing. Mmm, moths…
With Paul’s apocalyptic visions, dingy disused supermarkets and misty forests full of the spirits of the dead, this is an episode pulsing with strange, unsettling atmosphere. Beautifully shot, the balance between everyday realism and the other worldly is perfectly poised, the two worlds clearly distinct from each other without feeling disconnected. A promising and thoroughly entertaining first outing then - roll on next Wednesday.
GEEK OUT Mac’s list of writers he’d want to pen his life story includes Terry Pratchett, Alan Moore, Tolkein and Susan Cooper. Impressive…
Paul: “Twisted sexuality?”
Mac: “The eye of Mordor – the guy was clearly petrified of vaginas.”