There are so many things I could say about Helstrom, it’s tough to figure out where to begin. “It’s a great show that you should check out ASAP” might be a good place to start.
The series centers around the Helstrom family, namely Daimon (an ethics professor and occasional exorcist), Ana (a dealer of rare antiquities and vigilante whose brutal methods would put a smile on Frank Castle’s face), and their mother Victoria (a patient at an asylum who has been possessed by a demon for twenty years). After demonic forces unleash a powerful demon, the estranged siblings come together to stop the monster and save their family.
Helstrom: An Unique Family Dynamic
The patriarch of the Helstrom family is an unnamed demon and serial killer who disappeared years ago, though not before bringing hell to his progeny. He kidnapped a young Ana (Sydney Lemmon), torturing her and forcing her to help him with his murders. Furthermore, he carved a semi-pentagram into Daimon’s chest and placed the aforementioned demon inside Victoria. After destroying the Helstrom family unit, Ana ended up in the foster care system while Daimon (Tom Austen) was taken in by Dr. Louise Hastings (June Carryl), a former nun and the woman in charge of the institution where Victoria (Elizabeth Marvel) resides.
The separation of Ana and Daimon lead to a certain degree of resentment and distrust for one another. When their story begins, their loyalties lie with their respective surrogate family, and not one another. While Daimon grew up to be a respectable young man under the tutelage of Dr. Hastings, Ana found a brother, and partner in crime, in her foster sibling Chris Yen (Alain Uy). Robert Wisdom’s Caretaker looked over Ana from afar, as more of a watchful guardian than a father figure. Nun-in-training Gabriella Rosetti (Ariana Guerra) joins these characters in their fight against demonic evil, rounding out the core cast of the show.
Showrunner Paul Zbyszewski did a wonderful job with this loose adaptation, creating something that builds off of the source material in a fresh, exciting way that stays true to the heart of the original stories. While it would’ve been nice to see more grotesque demons (they mostly just possess people) or Ana with horns sprouting out of her bob, the visual effects and horror are still very much present. Albeit dialed down from what they are on the page.
The classic flame trident appears, one demon has a terrifying mouth in it’s abdomen, and Ana and Daimon routinely use their powers. This is a far cry from Inhumans, where Black Bolt and Medusa used their powers maybe four times across the whole series.
Heart, Humor, And Hell
The cast is downright phenomenal as well, with Sydney Lemmon and Elizabeth Marvel giving particularly standout performances. Tom Austen brings a level of vulnerability and compassion to Daimon, which not only distinguishes this version from his nigh constantly grim, brooding comic book counterpart, but also serves to make the character far more relatable and likable than he might have been otherwise.
Additionally, Guerra and Carryl brought a high level of pathos to the series, masterfully portraying characters who endure some horrifically traumatic experiences. Robert Wisdom’s caretaker and Alain Uy’s Chris Yen don’t have quite as much to do as the rest of the cast, though they never disappoint.
While the show isn’t perfect, it is thoroughly solid, a cut above many of its MCU TV predecessors. The blue filter and generally grey atmosphere can get overly dreary at times, but the fantastic set design more than makes up for it. The dialogue isn’t anything to write home about, but it’s not a serious issue either.
Additionally, while many of my fellow critics would lead you to believe that this show is incredibly dour, lacking anything resembling a funny bone, the comedy is surprisingly strong. Ana and Daimon’s routine sarcasm takes cues from the trademark MCU brand of humor, though it can be a bit more harsh and biting than most other MCU properties.
Helstrom may have been abandoned by Disney and Marvel Studios, but that does not mean fans should give up on it too. Tight pacing, strong emotional beats, and eye-catching body horror make this series one of the strongest Marvel TV efforts to date. While a cancellation order will almost certainly arrive within the week, it hasn’t yet. Truth be told, I expected Feige to cancel it on the day of arrival.
Perhaps, if enough fans support this series, a second season (which is set up gloriously) could arrive someday. Regardless of what the future holds for Daimon, Ana, and the entire extended Helstrom clan, we will always have ten delightful episodes of devilish MCU bliss.
What did you think of Helstrom? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media!