MGM+ (formerly known as Epix) has an absolute treasure on its roster in the form of From. Harold Perrineau stars as Boyd Stevens, a man who wound up being the sheriff of a small, middle-American town that somehow traps everyone who enters it. Adding to the terror of it all: There are deadly creatures that come out of the forest at night and do the horrific things that monsters do in stories like this one. Naturally, the situation only get worse as the show progresses, but we’ll get to that.
So, what makes From so damn special? Great question. On the surface, it is a horror show. I mean, literally, you will see horrible things. For example, the opening sequence of the first season shows a series of events that result in the gory off-screen deaths of a little girl and her mom. Apparently, there’s a talisman that, if hung in the doorway of one’s home, and no windows or doors are opened, those deadly creatures from the woods (who look like old-timey white people with creepy perma-smiles who never run for some reason) can’t get in. The little girl opened the window for a grandma-looking creature, and in the next scene her guts -- and her mama’s -- were on full display. The make-up and effects work here is amazing, and honestly, I respected the sheer amount of guts it must take to kill a cute little white girl and then show her corpse with the whole chest ripped out all in the first five minutes of any show, let alone this one. That is how you set the tone, my friends.
From there, watching Perrineau, whom I have nothing but admiration and respect for, is a joy -- a joy that is compounded exponentially by the contributions of the talent around him. Make no mistake, From is an ensemble piece, and like a jazz band, the cast's concerted dance between dissonance and harmony creates wonderful music. Every choice the actors make seems to show how interconnected the characters' fates truly are.
Boyd's son Ellis (Corteon Moore) lives with his girlfriend Fatima (Pegah Ghafoori) at Colony House, a communal-type environment where the residents live each day as if it’s their last (mostly because it just might be). Colony House is run by Donna (Elizabeth Saunders). Victor (Scott McCurd) also lives at Colony House, and he’s been trapped in this town since he was an actual child. Back in town are the people who chose to live under Boyd’s self-appointed rule, like Kenny the deputy (Ricky He), Kristi the EMT (Chloe Van Landschoot), Father Khatri (Shaun Majumder), Tom the bartender (Reid Price), Sara the waitress (Avery Konrad) and Tien Chen Liu (Elizabeth Moy), who runs the only diner in town and happens to be Kenny’s mom.
Everyone in this show is connected in some way, shape or form, and that’s not even including the Matthews family -- who serve as our entry point into the series -- or the group of people who (spoiler alert) show up at the end of season one, which is huge, considering that besides the Matthews, there hadn’t been any new arrivals for a very long time.
Besides the fact that the cast (both ensemble and supporting) is pretty diverse, there aren’t really any elements of cultural significance present, for anybody. Yes, Christianity appears through the presence of Father Khatri’s church, and various characters take the time to pray (both together and individually), but no specific references are made to whom any particular person may have been praying at any given time. And you know what? It works. The mystery surrounding where these people are, who may be responsible, and how all this actually works is what’s truly compelling about this series. In fact, solving those specific mysteries was the driving force behind my viewership, at least until I became personally invested in these people and their respective exploits.
The last thing I care about with this show is how anyone’s particular culture meshes with the group, per se. I’m much more interested in the solving of their collective problem, because regardless of where they’re all from, they’re all definitely in the same place now.
Besides the literal horror elements of the series -- which are abundant, by the way -- From also focuses on the psychological aspects of being suddenly and indefinitely trapped somewhere unexplainable. My particular theory about this show is still in development, but I’m currently staunchly against anything that implies the whole thing is a government experiment. I’d much rather it end up being witches and friggin’ ghosts than some massive tin-foil cover up, but that’s just me. Personally, I can’t remember the last time I was this compelled to stop at any point in my day and go off into deep thought about the destinies of fictional people. Game of Thrones, maybe?
The point is, I’ve never been one for horror, but From seems to transcend that. It's about roads that lead nowhere, trees that can teleport you places, and deadly monsters that come out at night, and yet it still somehow manages to be both aesthetically and emotionally grounded. Forget setting its own tone; this show has set the tone for its network. When the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes are over, MGM+ needs to make sure that the recently announced third season of this particular property is properly nurtured ... because From should be a game-changer.
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