FOR THOSE OF YOU WHO HAVE YET TO SEE SWARM, THIS IS A NON-SPOILER REVIEW.
The new Amazon Prime series Swarm is one of the strangest, darkest and off-putting shows I have seen in quite some time. Yet those aren’t necessarily marks against the freshman program… its bonkers tone is sure to intrigue many a viewer prepared for something wildly different. But you should definitely prepare yourself before tuning in.
WHAT IS SWARM ALL ABOUT?
Swarm follows Dre, a social outcast who spends her days obsessing over Beyonce-like pop diva Ni’jah. When her dearest (and seemingly only) friend meets a horrible fate, Dre goes on a violent downward spiral and heads out on the road to finally meet her beloved idol. But is her idol ready to face Dre?
LESS THAN THE SUM OF ITS PARTS…
Swarm comes from creators Donald Glover (Atlanta) and Janine Nabers (HBO’s Watchmen), whose considerable talents of melding genres comes to new heights here. Though I must admit (being huge fans of both of their prior series), that this much more experimental show pales in comparison to their previous works. While I think there are so many moments of greatness in Swarm, the series as a whole is less than the sum of its parts. I found myself having a hard time reaching the finale, even though this season only consists of seven 30-ish minute episodes. Something about the way the narrative flows, doesn’t beg you to continue and binge the entire thing.
WHAT IS THE REASON TO WATCH?
The real reason to watch is Dominique Fishback. The up-and-coming star who will next be seen in the huge blockbuster Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is a revelation here. The sheer fact that you still have empathy for a character so unhinged and devoid of basic human emotion is a testament to her performance. You can’t take your eyes off of Dre, which is why you still keep watching to the end.
SOME OF THE EPISODES ARE BETTER THAN OTHERS…
I will say that some of the episodes in Swarm work much better than others. There are different pit-stops in Dre’s journey that keep you invested, while others will just lose you completely. Luckily, the enormously effective sound design helps keep the tension mounting and the vast number of crazy twists will keep you on your toes. Swarm is one of those shows that feels like it’s almost shamelessly relying on shock value to ensure that it will be trending on social media… but, I have to say it is effective in its approach.
CAN SWARM BE COMPARED TO ANYTHING ELSE?
This series is like a disturbing mix of Euphoria, the A24 film Zola, and Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, with a dash of Glover’s own Atlanta. It’s an odd amalgamation of different ideas, but it also feels like its own distinct vision. And that’s probably the best thing I can say about Swarm. It’s definitely not my favorite show of the year, and honestly I was a little repulsed by it at times… but, it is undoubtedly a fiercely original show that I will not forget any time soon.
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