How a Whovianesque Horror-Comedy Turned Into Yet Another Frost/Pegg Lovestory
I am one of the biggest fans of the Cornetto Trilogy. Between Shaun of the Dead, Hot Fuzz, and World’s End, the Simon Pegg and Nick Frost team-ups are some of my favorite geek-comedy teams of the past two decades. This is why I was happy to see Pegg and Frost reunited for Truth Seekers, an Amazon original horror-comedy arrived just in time for Holloween.
What Truth Seekers is About
There’s a lot of reasons to watch Truth Seekers. For starters, there are a lot of good horror moments mere minutes into this show, yet somehow, still keeps it all PG-13 levels of scary. Taking a page out of shows like The X Files and Doctor Who, the series does a great job of tackling the paranormal by peppering it with funny moments, all for what is surprisingly low stakes hijinks that wrap up nicely per episode. It also holds onto a season-long arc about soul projection that ties together the main science fiction elements of the story.
In Truth Seekers, we follow two broadband internet installation specialists who moonlight as paranormal investigators. As Gus (Nick Frost), the top IT specialist at the largest internet service provider in England, runs a Youtube channel called The Truth Seeker. Which is a place where he shares his ghost hunts online. For views, but also, mostly in honor of his deceased wife. A woman that was a former paranormal investigator herself before she had passed under strange circumstances.
One day, Gus’ boss Dave (Simon Pegg), assigns him a new partner, a somewhat awkward man named Elton John (Samson Kayo) who apparently has his own mysterious past. Elton plays a very good reluctant straight man, while Gus plays the enthusiastic and headstrong investigator. Mere moments into their first day together, Gus takes Elton John along a paranormal ride when it’s revealed that, for some strange reason, Elton seems to be attracting certain paranormal activities. While this is all happening, a young woman named Astrid (Emma D’Arcy) is being followed in a hospital. The spirits of the dead seemingly coming after her.
This is sort of the premise of the first episode which ends up driving the series. Many of the episodes use flashbacks to showcase origin stories for the case of the weeks, but it’s all tied together with a through-line about soul projection.
A big part of the series has been soul Transference
There’s even a Necronomicon-like book about it. There are several iterations of transference showcased in the series, and given that it’s short in format and light tone, it’s a storyline that often gets too quickly to the point. As the show feels like it would have been great as a short horror comic series.
Yet, transference also holds a certain undying element towards it. From its usage in the show, we get the age-old tropes of ghosts, hauntings, possessed items, and even your occasional cult following. The horror is solid, done mostly with practical effects; though it is albeit redundant at times. As there are just so many times a flaming woman can feel intimidating before it’s just outright silly
I do think that what lacks in the show is a compelling hook…
The revealed villains of the series turn out to be a rather overused plot device we’ve seen in too much of the Cornetto trilogy. Like ice cream it’s a delicious treat when used sporadically; yet, when indulged too much can feel a little bloated. Which is sort of the problem with Truth Seekers: we’ve seen all of this type of storytelling before. I think the series is fun on its own, but it’s hard not to compare it to the other Nick Frost and Simon Pegg homages via genre-comedy.
Likewise, it’s strange but Simon Pegg doesn’t seem all too important in Truth Seekers, which was disappointed initially at first until his role is expanded upon in great fashion by series end. Though the two aren’t best friends, they do have a unique relationship that’s both mysterious yet very dependent on trust. A relationship that leaves audiences with the potential for more if there is another season.
Still, for the British humor, it’s satisfying. Especially if you’re a seasoned horror fanatic. The casting is also fantastic, and everyone brings an original and oddly nerdy joke to the table, with many homages to conventions and science fiction. Just don’t leave feeling all that whelmed by the series as though it is very heartfelt, it’s not a show you’ll like be gossiping about with friends. You’ll probably just walk away going: that was fun.
I do wonder if the show might have done better if it debuted early Halloween season. Particularly, prior to the Haunting of Bly manor, Halloween weekend, and especially, not before the presidential election. The issue with the show isn’t that it’s bad, but that there aren’t too many stakes involved. Unfortunately, it’s hard to watch now given that Halloween feels like it was ages ago despite it only being a week.
You can watch Truth Seekers on Amazon right now