Ben’s Three Episode Thoughts | The Family that Hunts Together, Stays Together in “October Faction.”
They say that the family that plays together stays together. How about the family that kills supernatural monsters? That is what Fred and Deloris Allen do. Not only are they married, but they hunt supernatural beasties and eliminate them. Fred and Deloris are part of an organization called “The Presidio” whose mission is to keep humanity safe from the deadly things that go bump in the night. However, when Fred receives a phone call telling him that his father has died he packs up the family, including his teenage children (fraternal twins Geoff and Viv) and leave Japan (where they have been living) to go back to Fred’s childhood home in upstate New York. Once they are back they encounter a different type of ghost. In this case, Fred has to deal with his un-loving family as well as the guilt he harbors for allowing his older brother Seth to be killed by a monster. Deloris, on the other hand, feels guilt for a childhood friend having to take the rap for a crime she’s responsible for. For Fred, the only thing he wants to do is “get the hell out of Dodge” so they can take on their next assignment in Oslo Norway. While hosting a memorial party Geoff convinces some of the classmates in their new school to take part in a seance where Viv (all under some warped pretense) will attempt to contact the spirit of their Grandfather. Unfortunately for Viv she does make contact with something, only this person isn’t very nice and has been imprisoned. Viv’s tête-à-tête does not go well for her while the individual she contacted manages her own special jailbreak.
Starting at the new school for Geoff and Viv is even less of a picnic as the student body is one giant exclusive clique, and they view the twins as “weird.” Things get weirder when Geoff and Viv each experience something that can only be thought of as supernatural. First Geoff psychically deduces that his history teacher has had some personal problems, and he is also seeing the deceased. Viv, in addition to becoming a powerful medium, also shows a talent for precognition. And if that isn’t enough, The Presidio has a secret regarding Fred’s daddy dearest.
October Faction is taken from a comic book series of the same name and has been given its premiere on Netflix. While the Netflix series almost starts off with a bang, it promptly slows down to a pace that some people might find boring. In most cases, the narrative would move a pretty fast clip, but this isn’t just a series about monsters that are being hunted. This is a story about a family that has lived with lies. Fred tells Deloris lies, she returns the favor, both of them tell lies to the twins, and both Geoff and Viv are unable to approach their parents to tell them of these peculiar events they are experiencing. After three episodes I realized that this feels more like a soap opera. It’s The Stepford Wives meets Dark Shadows. There is plenty of action in each episode, but the heart of this story is about this family facing all sorts of demons and monsters, both from the outside and especially those from within, and it’s those conflicts, especially the internal that serve to drive each of the episodes in this series. Of course, there is the world-building that has to take place by introducing us to all of the primary and secondary players. All the pieces need to be perfectly set up on the table before they can be knocked over in true dramatic fashion, and this takes time. The stories do give just enough in terms of breadcrumbs to keep patient viewers hooked, and the characters are interesting enough to make us want to see what might happen to them.
The four principal actors for this series are Tamara Taylor as Deloris, j.c. MacKenzie as Fred, Aurora Burghart as Viv, and Gabriel Darku as Geoff. Each of them is quite competent in their performances, but the real meat rests with MacKenzie and Taylor. Not only do they both have standout moments, but their chemistry is interesting to watch. Even as they interact with each other there is this subtext suggesting a lack of complete honesty between the two of them. It is very subtle, but it is there.
If you’re after a quick “kill the monsters before they kill you” show, then this might not be for you. However, if you like stories that build on layers of mystery, that moves at a slow, but methodical and calculated pace, only to be punctuated by moments of action and revelation, then you’ll want to check out October Faction.