Amazon’s New Thriller ‘Wilderness’ Might Use Extra Camp6 min read

An intriguing setup offers solution to an oddly hole conclusion within the new Jenna Coleman-led marital thriller.

Wilderness Prime Review

Stefania Rosini/Prime VIdeo

By  · Revealed on October 4th, 2023

Welcome to Up Subsequent, a recurring column maintaining a tally of what’s new in TV. This week, TV critic Valerie Ettenhofer checks in with a assessment of the brand new Amazon Prime present Wilderness.

For just a few years roughly a decade in the past, practically each thriller or thriller novel to hit cabinets was dubbed “the following Gone Woman.” Within the wake of the success of Gillian Flynn’s darkish, twisty novel about an acrid marriage that turned probably murderous, there was no restrict to the variety of books that may very well be proclaimed the bestseller’s inheritor obvious. Right here’s a twist, although: none of these books have been the following Gone Woman – both when it comes to shared thematic DNA or fundamental plot particulars. Sadly, Wilderness, the buzzy new Prime Video collection a couple of scorching couple with harmful secrets and techniques, isn’t the following Gone Woman both, nevertheless it a minimum of looks like a well-studied imitator at instances. Varyingly engrossing, overwritten, and oddly tame, Wilderness is probably not the following large factor within the thriller world – nevertheless it’s additionally not half unhealthy. Or, slightly, it’s solely half unhealthy.

Wilderness is, at first, good at constructing a shiny, practiced form of intrigue. Its well-edited trailer crafts an ambiguous sense of hazard round its theme tune, Taylor Swift’s “Look What You Made Me Do,” and its pilot episode options an equally ominous hook. The present begins with married couple Liv (Physician Who alum Jenna Coleman) and Will (The Haunting of Bly Manor’s Oliver Jackson-Cohen) cruising throughout the American Southwest whereas Liv muses in voiceover about her potential to faux an ideal marriage with out displaying her true self. Her thought course of quickly begins to sound extra coolly threatening, and a second later, the pair’s dashing automotive is proven squishing a Black Widow spider below its tire. Like one of the best components of the collection, it’s heavy-handed, nevertheless it’s fairly enjoyable, too.

With out revealing an excessive amount of concerning the present’s plot (which is definitely surprisingly simple after its first two twist-filled episodes), it’s vital to notice that Will royally fucked up his marriage, and Liv retains wishing him useless in probably the most dramatic manner attainable. A few of the present’s cleverest moments come early on, when she daydreams each attainable manner she may homicide him – and the way every technique may go improper. In a single scene within the premiere episode, Liv even stands behind Will on the fringe of the Grand Canyon, poised to shove him over the sting. The truth that one misstep may ship her careening over the sting with him is inappropriate, each as a result of Will is a deeply clueless character and since the present cares extra about establishing punchy, dramatic tableaus than it does about sustaining inside logic.

Regardless of the unusual storytelling shallowness that generally plagues Wilderness, it’s a well-plotted present, particularly by soapy crime drama requirements. The six-episode collection is not any shorter or longer than obligatory to inform its story, and as soon as a homicide does lastly happen, it’s dealt with with a shocking quantity of maturity. Sadly, that maturity grows boring within the present’s somber second half. At instances – particularly in its first two episodes, the present’s finest – Wilderness gestures in the direction of one thing that matches the campy extravagance of its theme tune, however it will definitely will get slowed down within the tedious depths of its characters’ guilt and betrayal.

Coleman and Jackson-Cohen put in good performances, as do Ashley Benson (Fairly Little Liars) and Eric Balfour (Six Ft Beneath) as one other couple that finally ends up entangled within the central pair’s harmful recreation. There’s an odd placidity to Coleman’s efficiency that’s at odds along with her usually venomous voiceover, although, and it’s extra a writing downside than an performing one. Liv is offered as a cold-blooded, ruthless individual, but the collection appears to firmly consider her insistence that her actions are these of a loving however wronged girl trapped in a world stuffed with piggish males Even within the present’s most pleasurable moments, it’s not possible to totally join with Liv, whose over-abundant voiceover ranges from ironic to sociopathic relying on the second. As a rule, the narration gimmick looks like it might make extra sense if Liv possessed a darkly humorous streak, however she doesn’t. If the character in B.E. Jones’ supply materials (the present’s primarily based on a 2019 novel) did, it’s mysteriously absent from the display screen adaptation.

Will may not find yourself going over a cliff, however the present definitely takes a nosedive in its again half. The second half of the collection by no means matches the vitality and pleasure of the primary, and a really off-putting epilogue evaporated my final vestiges of goodwill in the direction of the present simply earlier than the credit rolled. Wilderness ends on a daring stunt that misses the mark fully, one which satisfied me as soon as and for all that it might’ve succeeded if it caught with the thrillingly trashy — but unambitious — thriller premise it began off with. As an alternative, the collection takes a soapy plot and tries to leverage it right into a critical meditation on large concepts concerning the patriarchy and societal strain on ladies. Sadly, since Liv’s many voiceover aphorisms sound extra foolish than convincing, the textual content merely doesn’t help that line of thought, so the ending simply feels ridiculous.

If you wish to watch a trendy, twisty, pseudo-feminist fashionable thriller a couple of seemingly good spouse who secretly desires her clueless husband useless, properly, it’s a great factor David Fincher already made one in 2014.

Wilderness is at the moment streaming on Amazon Prime. Watch the collection trailer right here.

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Valerie Ettenhofer is a Los Angeles-based freelance author, TV-lover, and mac and cheese fanatic. As a Senior Contributor at Movie Faculty Rejects, she covers tv by means of common evaluations and her recurring column, Episodes. She can also be a voting member of the Critics Alternative Affiliation’s tv and documentary branches. Twitter: @aandeandval (She/her)

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