TV Review: The Sister elevates a standard premise with a supernatural element

A nonlinear storyline, a dash of supernatural suggestion, and committed performances across the board, The Sister switches enough of the standard murder-mystery thriller concept for it to earn viewer interest over the course of its four sharp episodes.

Within minutes of Neil Cross‘s screenplay unfolding on the screen – the writer adapting from his own novel, “Burial” – it’s evident that all is not well within the mindset of Nathan Redman (Russell Tovey).  He’s got a secret weighing heavy on his shoulders, and it would appear to be linked to the disappearance of the young Elise, who just so happens to be the sister of his wife, Holly (Amrita Acharia).

Elise had disappeared before Nathan and Holly met, but their meeting is certainly not the chance encounter Holly assumes it to be, and though the two very much love each other, the mysteriousness surrounding Elise can’t help but linger above their union.

Seemingly unwilling to confront his past, the reappearance of afterlife enthusiast Bob Morrow (Bertie Carvel) forces that fear to the surface as Bob claims he’s being haunted, and that it could be Elise’s presence doing so.  Struggling with his own moral compass, as well as trying to keep Holly from learning the truth, Nathan slowly unravels the past to uncover where on the lines of guilt and innocence he truly stands.

Whilst it would be easy to dismiss the series as another “missing woman” show, The Sister manages a variation on such a familiar narrative.  It surprisingly reveals itself in a different fashion than most of these shows adhere to, especially as what many could consider “the big reveal” is detailed early on in the show’s four-episode arc, leaving the back-end of the storyline to build on the suspense and reveal another layer of intrigue.

Whilst the story itself could’ve been trimmed to something more of a feature length, the four episode format never extends beyond what’s necessary.  Sure, there’s a little filler added in, but it manages to keep itself afloat, even when you feel like it’s starting to resemble shows of a similar ilk.  That’s perhaps why the supernatural element feels so fresh.  Far from being a ghost story, there’s an ominousness to what’s being told that helps lean further into the show’s psychological state, elevating the material in the process.

THREE AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)

All episodes of The Sister are now streaming on Hulu in available regions.  It is streaming on SBS On Demand in Australia.

Peter Gray

Film critic with a penchant for Dwayne Johnson, Jason Momoa, Michelle Pfeiffer and horror movies, harbouring the desire to be a face of entertainment news.

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