Spoiler-Free Review of Harlan Coben’s “The Woods” on Netflix

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

If you thoroughly enjoyed your watches of The Stranger and Safe, Harlan Coben’s latest crime thriller series is out for you to binge-watch now. 

The Woods is a Polish series that premiered on Netflix on June 12th 2020. It features 6 episodes (45-50 minutes in length) and it stars Grzegorz Damiecki, Agnieszka Grochowska, Hubert Milkowski, and Wiktoria Filus. The series is available with subtitles or dubbed in English.

Like the addicting and binge-watch worthy The Stranger and Safe, The Woods is also brought to us from author and creator, Harlan Coben. It is a mystery thriller that centers around Pawel Kopinski. Twenty-five years ago, Pawel’s sister went missing, along with three other teens from their summer camp, but new evidence comes to light, suggesting that the case may not be shut just yet.

This show has the potential to fulfill your craving for a new mystery thriller, but does The Woods measure up to The Stranger and Safe? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Woods Netflix 1
Images courtesy of Netflix

A mystery that immediately pulls you in.

Much like with The Stranger and Safe, Harlan Coben is a genius at bringing us into a crime filled world with secrets and reveals at every corner. The mystery surrounding Pawel’s missing sister is a compelling one. It hooks you onto the show and keeps you guessing until the very end, which is what I expect these shows to do.

The Woods Netflix 2
Images courtesy of Netflix

Ship-worthy chemistry.

Don’t get me wrong, the series is a crime thriller mystery, but I absolutely loved the chemistry between Pawel and Laura. They fell in love twenty-five years ago and when they meet up in the present, you could just feel the passion between them once again. Sure, they don’t really have too much time to dwell on this, but it helped me connect with the characters more and I thought their performances were believable and well done.

The Woods Netflix 3
Images courtesy of Netflix

Seamless flashbacks.

It’s not easy pulling off flashbacks that advance the plot, but I thought that they worked extremely well in this particular series. I was actually more interested in the flashbacks than present day events and I thought that they freed us up from the slower pace at times. The character dynamics were great and you really felt the terror and anxiety rushing through each character as secrets were revealed.

The Cons:

The Woods Netflix 4
Images courtesy of Netflix

Slow pace.

The series is only six episodes and each episode isn’t terribly long, but the series had a tendency to drag in many places. The monotonous music and dull lighting didn’t help at times as I had to keep forcing myself to pay attention. Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of moments where you will focus on what is going on completely, but I was just hoping for a faster pace like with The Stranger and Safe and I didn’t really get that here.

Too many sub-plots.

If you have read my reviews on The Stranger and Safe, then you know that I often comment on the multiple sub-plots throughout these series. However, they seemed to stick out even more in The Woods because of the slower pace.

We get this present day case that Pawel is working on and I’m not even sure what actually happened with it because it steered off course too much. While many of the sub-plots make sense later on and add to the mystery, they could be extremely overwhelming and unnecessary at times.

So am I in or out?

The Woods Netflix 6
Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m about 50/50 on this one. The series is only six episodes long so it does make a good weekend binge-watch, but I wouldn’t necessarily move it up to the top of your list just yet. 

Perhaps I set my expectations a little bit too high here. I adored both The Stranger and Safe and I was counting the days up until the release of this series. While The Woods does deliver as a compelling mystery that will keep you guessing, it lacks in a lot of other areas and is just kind of OK overall.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Woods in the comments section below. You can check out my review of The Stranger here!  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…

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A harmless night of fun turns deadly for six college friends but the game has only just begun. Take a mystery thrill ride right from your own living room. Dash and Seek is out now! I hope you enjoy!

READ IF YOU DARE…

Dash and Seek is available here!

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Spoiler-Free Review of “Penny Dreadful: City of Angels” on Showtime: Evil Looks Good on Natalie Dormer

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“Until not a soul is left…are you ready?”

The sequel spin-off of Penny Dreadful may not be connected to the original show, but it does present us with a different kind of evil in a brand new time and setting with Natalie Dormer’s Magda at the very center of it.

Penny Dreadful: City of Angels premiered on Showtime on April 26th 2020. It will feature weekly episodes (55 minutes in length). It stars Natalie Dormer, Daniel Zovatto, Nathan Lane, and Lorenza Izzo.

While the show has been long awaited by fans of the beloved Gothic horror series, Penny Dreadful, there will be no crossovers or Easter Eggs to the original series, even though it seems like this could have been done.

The show takes place in Los Angeles, 1938 and follows several groups of characters as the demon, Magda and Santa Muerte clash on their involvement in mortal affairs.

The show certainly has a lot of possibility, but can it live up to its predecessor? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Penny Dreadful COA Showtime 1
Images courtesy of Showtime

Natalie Dormer ignites the screen.

I am already a fan of the Game of Thrones alum, but I have to say that Natalie Dormer was born for a role like this. While it will certainly not be easy to live up to the breathtakingly magnetic, Eva Green in the original series, Dormer is taking on a new character and is embracing her dark side with style.

The opening scene leaves you wanting so much more and reveals just how manipulative and powerful Dormer’s character can be.

Penny Dreadful COA Showtime 2
Images courtesy of Showtime

Exceptional cast and gorgeous setting.

The sequel is set in pre World War II L.A. The setting is absolutely gorgeous and I appreciated some of these smaller moments where we got to witness dancing in the street, beautiful outfits, and serene backdrops of the bluffs, transporting us back to a different time and place seamlessly.

The rest of the cast is talented as well, which should work in their favor, as they have the potential to really light up the screen with character dynamics and relationships.

The Cons:

Penny Dreadful COA Showtime 5
Images courtesy of Showtime

A storyboard of ideas can get confusing…

After watching the premiere episode, there are already so many characters and sub-plots, which makes it difficult to keep up. I’m all for a slow burn type of reveal, but I think that some of these plots are going to get lost in the void. The premiere episode acted like a storyboard of ideas rather than a full developed plot, which could be problematic.

Penny Dreaful COA Showtime 4
Images courtesy of Showtime

Don’t bench your best player…

Natalie Dormer is the best part of this series right now and yet she is taking a back seat in the premiere episode. While I understand that the show is focusing more on her whispering in the ears of men to convince them to do evil, she honestly deserves more than this.

I love seeing her take on different characters as she hides her true identity as the demon, Magda, but it seems like we are stifling a major asset on this series and I just honestly want to see more of her. Let her shine!

Not enough supernatural elements.

The original series did a fantastic job of transporting us into a world of Gothic horror as we met familiar characters from literature with a unique and dark spin. While I understand that the show is going in a new direction, I don’t want it to lose that supernatural spark. There are a lot of elements in history to explore during this time, but let’s tell a new story filled with legend and magical possibility.

So am I in or out?

Penny Dreadful COA Showtime 3
Images courtesy of Showtime

Right now, I’m honestly about 50/50. The show has the potential to be something extraordinary. We get this interesting clash between the demon, Magda and the legend, Santa Muerte, which could really help the show find its own entertaining path, but I have a feeling that a lot of things will get lost in the midst of an over-complicated plot.

I’m going to give the show a few more episodes because Natalie Dormer honestly deserves it, but I really hope that this slow burn mystery can just start lighting things on fire already.

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Penny Dreadful: City of Angels in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

PLAY BY THE RULES…STAY ALIVE…

Main promo smaller

A harmless night of fun turns deadly for six college friends but the game has only just begun. Take a mystery thrill ride right from your own living room. Dash and Seek comes out April 28th!

Dash and Seek is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Do you love horror series? Of course you do! Please also check out 12 Nights of Horror Series Coming Soon. It’s your home for everything you need to know about new and returning horror television series including new trailers, premiere dates, reviews, recaps, and renewals! 

 

 

 

Spoiler-Free Review of “Safe” on Netflix: The Perfect Binge-Watch for fans of “The Stranger”

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

If you thoroughly enjoyed your binge-watch of The Stranger, you might have been endlessly skimming through Netflix recommendations for something to measure up. Well fear not, as Netflix gets it completely right with its latest recommendation…Safe.

Safe actually premiered on Netflix on May 10th 2018, but it has been gaining popularity ever since The Stranger premiered. It features 8 episodes (40-45 minutes in length) and it stars Dexter’s Michael C. Hall, Amy James-Kelly, Amanda Abbington, Marc Warren, and Hannah Arterton.

Like The Stranger, Safe is also brought to us from author and creator, Harlan Coben. It is a mystery thriller that follows Tom Delaney’s search for his missing daughter, Jenny. Once again, dark secrets are exposed as several threads begin to unravel together, leaving us on the edge of our seats with constant twists and turns.

The show has a very similar feel, almost making it seem like part of a thriller anthology series, but does Safe measure up to The Stranger? Let’s find out…

The Pros:

Safe Netflix 4
Images courtesy of Netflix

Once again, an amazing cast!

Michael C. Hall was absolutely brilliant as Tom Delaney and as a huge fan of Dexter, I was pleased to see him thrive in another role. The rest of the cast was fantastic as well, making the character dynamics that much more more intriguing.

Safe Netflix 7
Images courtesy of Netflix

Another surprising mystery.

Even though I preferred the approach of an actual stranger exposing dark secrets, I thought that the mystery behind Safe was just as compelling. Once again, I found myself completely invested to see how things would unfold, coming up with my own theories and suspects along the way. The show is far from predictable and each episode leaves you wanting more and more.

The Cons:

Safe Netflix 5
Images courtesy of Netflix

Too many sub-plots.

Much like The Stranger, we ended up lost in several side plots and characters along the way. Some of them connected to the main mystery centered around Tom Delaney and his daughter, but others seemed out of place and strange. That being said, I thought that Safe did a better job with this than The Stranger, connecting as many dots as possible for us without completely overwhelming us.

So am I in or out?

Safe Netflix 6
Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m in 100 percent again! After watching The Stranger, I was endlessly searching for something similar to watch and I love that we now get the chance to discover the hidden gem of Safe. I didn’t even know about this show when it premiered, but hopefully more fans of The Stranger will discover it and give it a chance because it can stand on its own as a worthy thriller series.

Even though I think that I enjoyed The Stranger a little bit more, Safe did not disappoint at all. Once again, Netflix delivered with the perfect binge-watch and we can never get enough of Michael C. Hall, so that was an added bonus!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on Safe in the comments section below. You can check out my review of The Stranger here!  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Love time travel?  Me too!  Check out my blog on The Octoberpod Guide to Time Travel and stay tuned for an all new episode of Octoberpod!  Fun and spooky stuff for retro horror fans!  Subscribe at Octoberpod Home Video

Do you love horror series?  Of course you do!  Please also check out 12 Nights of Horror Series Coming Soon.  It’s your home for everything you need to know about new and returning horror television series including new trailers, premiere dates, reviews, recaps, and renewals! 

 

Spoiler-Free Review of “The Stranger” on Netflix: A Complex Thriller Worthy of your next Binge-Watch

**This is a spoiler-free review so feel free to read on!**

“A secret revealed is a secret destroyed.”

The Stranger premiered on Netflix on January 31st 2020 with 8 episodes (40-45 minutes in length).  It stars Richard Armitage, Siobhan Finneran, Anthony Head, Dervla Kirwan, and Hannah John-Kamen.

The show is based on the book of the same name by Harlan Coben.  It is a mystery thriller that follows the lives of several families, as secrets are exposed by a stranger, creating a vortex of lies, murder, and a quest to uncover the truth.

This is not the first crime thriller that Netflix has released, but it’s difficult to deliver some worthy twists without over-complicating things.

If you enjoy movies like The Call, The Girl on the Train, and Gone Girl, this new show will make you feel right at home, but does it do enough to stand out as a worthy thrill ride?  Let’s find out…

The Pros:

The Stranger Netflix 4
Images courtesy of Netflix

The mystery will keep you invested and guessing the entire time.

Adam Price basically has his entire life turned upside down when a stranger approaches him with a shattering secret about his wife.  As we begin to uncover the truth with Adam, you will find yourself on the edge of your seat, which makes the watch entertaining and fast-paced.  Unnecessary set-up does not get in the way, as we dive right into the mystery from the opening minutes of the series.

An amazing cast.

Richard Armitage does a fantastic job with his role, but I was also really impressed by Siobhan Finneran’s portrayal of Johanna Griffin.  Let’s not forget that we also have Buffy the Vampire Slayer alum, Anthony Head playing a supporting role to perfection.  The list goes on and on and every single performance was spot on.

The Cons:

The Stranger Netflix Show 1
Images courtesy of Netflix

Way too many sub-plots.

Yes, this is one of those shows where everything connects.  However, we certainly get a lot thrown our way and some of it seems beyond outrageous.  If you pay attention, a lot of the connections and reveals make sense later on, but some of them are actually never explained, so I’m wondering why we didn’t just focus on the main mystery, which was compelling enough.

It’s easy to get lost in this show and perhaps it is too complex for its own good, but there are enough reasons why you should still watch the show in its entirety anyway.

So am I in or out?

The Stranger Netflix Show 2
Images courtesy of Netflix

I’m in 100 percent!  While the show may be unnecessarily complex at times, it is the epitome of the perfect weekend binge-watch.  You can watch all eight episodes in one sitting and you will probably want to because each episode leaves you wanting more, as you try to figure out the mystery going on.

I tend to thoroughly enjoy mystery thrillers with a touch of Lifetime drama thrown in and this show exceeded my expectations.  While this isn’t the best show or thriller I have ever seen, it delivers as a quick and entertaining show you can watch while throwing in some unexpected twists and moments that will keep you guessing.

Keep these coming, Netflix!

I hope you enjoyed the review and feel free to post your own thoughts and theories on The Stranger in the comments section below.  Thanks so much for reading and happy viewing!

Best,

Amy Koto, TV Fanatic Girl

**Do you love television shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Once Upon a Time, Lost, Charmed, The Vampire Diaries, and Supernatural?  Do you enjoy dark fantasy, fairy-tale retellings, paranormal romance, horror, and mystery?  Then you may like my book series, Dreaming of Wonderland…available on Amazon!  Thank you for taking the time to check it out and I appreciate any feedback as well.  I really hope you enjoy!

The Dreaming of Wonderland Book Series is available here!

Free Instant Preview of The Search for Alice is available here!

**If you enjoyed this blog, I would love it if you would click the follow button on your way out to subscribe.  Thanks for your support!

Love time travel?  Me too!  Check out my blog on The Octoberpod Guide to Time Travel and stay tuned for an all new episode of Octoberpod!  Fun and spooky stuff for retro horror fans!  Subscribe at Octoberpod Home Video

Do you love horror series?  Of course you do!  Please also check out 12 Nights of Horror Series Coming Soon.  It’s your home for everything you need to know about new and returning horror television series including new trailers, premiere dates, reviews, recaps, and renewals!