‘Devil in Ohio’ series review: Netflix cult-horror drama
With its omnipotent crows, pig head on a stake, and of course, the Geraldine/ Christabel echoes, this Emily Deschanel-starrer is fun for its literary allusions
Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s poem ‘ Christabel’ has an irresistible, haunting fairytale quality apart from its lovely rhythms (thanks to the accentual metrical system). The poem, again a supposed fragment like Coleridge’s Kubla Khan, is a miracle of rare device. It tells the story of a noblewoman, Christabel, who meets a strange woman, Geraldine, in the woods and invites her into the castle despite eerie omens and a strange wound on Geraldine.
Devil in Ohio
Runtime: 40 to 49 minutes
Creator: Daria Polatin
Starring: Emily Deschanel, Sam Jaeger, Gerardo Celasco, Madeleine Arthur, Xaria Dotson, Alisha Newton, Naomi Tan
Storyline: A psychiatrist brings work home with disquieting results
The similarities are striking for all wondering what that connection is between a romantic ballad written in 1816 and a show in 2022. Based on Daria Polatin’s eponymous 2017 novel, Devil in Ohio tells the story of a psychiatrist, Suzanne (Emily Deschanel). When a girl is brought to the hospital with a gruesome wound on her back, Suzanne is instinctively drawn toward her.
The girl, Mae (Madeleine Arthur), has run away from her parents, Malachi (Tahmoh Penikett) and Abigail (Caroline Cave), and the community in Amontown. With the hospital and foster homes being full-up, Suzanne brings Mae home much to the dismay of her husband, Peter (Sam Jaeger), and daughters Helen (Alisha Newton), Jules (Xaria Dotson), and Dani (Naomi Tan). Now, do you see the similarities between Devil in Ohio and Christabel’?
While Mae seems to be the victim of scary Satanists, she also seems to have an agenda of her own, inveigling herself into the family by ostensibly helping but also undermining everyone around her. Devil in Ohio is fairly engaging as we follow each character arc.
Peter, a real estate contractor, decides to go into business and puts all his money, including the girls’ college fund into a project. When the buyer pulls out at the last moment, Peter is left with a beautiful house he cannot sell and a mortgage he cannot pay.
Shy Jules is upset that Helen is all wrapped up in her new boyfriend Teddy (Ty Wood). She turns away from her one friend Isaac (Jason Sakaki), even as Mae insidiously dazzles Jules’ crush, Sebastian (Evan Ellison). Dani dreams of a place in the school’s musical. Helen seems to have her life all figured out but she also has questions. Suzanne has to come to terms with her childhood trauma.
Detective Lopez (Gerardo Celasco), who is in charge of the case, is newly transferred from Chicago. Though he is tenacious, his every lead encounters brick walls. He is also going through a separation and is sharing custody of his golden retriever with his former fiancée. Even though lacking in mind-blowing thrills or chills, the eight episodes move along smoothly. The twist ending is just that wee bit strange considering it is a mini-series and thus logically there cannot be a season 2.
With its omnipotent crows, pig head on a stake, and of course, the Geraldine/ Christabel echoes, Devil in Ohio is fun for its literary allusions. What, you did not think of Edgar Allen Poe’s Raven and William Golding’s Lord of the Flies? Fie on you! Even otherwise, with the harvest dance, Halloween (two blood-soaked Carries), and a satanic cult, Devil in Ohio offers a mildly binge-able show.
Devil in Ohio is currently streaming on Netflix