A shaky start - with wild pacing and raunchy jokes, one thing you can say is that Crazyhead is never dull.
At its heart, Crazyhead is a tale of unconventional demon hunters who face not only the supernatural, but also their own personal demons. The coming-of-age horror comedy, that seeks to follow in the steps of Supernatural, Misfits and Buffy the Vampire Slayer, has always sounded promising, with Netflix acquiring the rights to international release after its debut in the UK on E4. With such a talented cast and crew, including Susan Wokoma, Downton Abbey’s Cara Theobald, and Misfits writer Howard Overman writing and producing the show. However, in reality, it so far doesn’t quite live up to its bold claims.
The first episode follows Amy (Theobald) as she learns that the “hallucinations” she’s been seeing aren’t a sign of mental illness, but rather that she’s been given the gift of seeing demons. She comes to understand her role as a “kickass hell-bitch” with the help of more seasoned demon hunter, Raquel (Wokoma), and learns the intricacies of exorcisms, kidnapping and fighting vengeful spirits. This episode, ‘A Very Trippy Horse’, establishes the dramas the two women look set to face in upcoming episodes, as we’re introduced to a variety of characters, from the obviously sinister antagonist, Doctor Jones (Richard Lumsden), to the more mysterious “good guy demon”, Sawyer (Luke Allen-Gale).
Whilst the premise is good, the reality is that Crazyhead occasionally falls short, even if it proves an enjoyable watch overall. The superb music choice is easily one of the best parts of the first episode, used to comedic effect – the likes of The Cascades, Sunday Girl and the theme song, Gin Wigmore’s ‘Kill of the Night’, all add to the in-your-face comedy of Theobald and Wokoma. The humour isn’t all good, though – there are a number of jokes that leave you cringing in your seat, and seems at odds with the somewhat stilted chemistry between Amy and Raquel on screen.
Pacing is another issues that Crazyhead stumbles on. Oscillating between fast-paced fight scenes and moments of melancholy as characters struggle to come to grips with their new reality, it’s hard to follow, and whilst the soundtrack is one of my favourite parts, it doesn’t help control the wild pacing either. This might be a result of how short the series is – it has only six episodes for the first series – as they try to cram too many plot points into very little time.
The minor character draw my attention more than the antics of the two main heroines. Though the villainous antics of Doctor Jones felt a little overdone (bludgeoning a man’s head in with an award, really?), it set him up as antagonist nicely, and his cooler cynicism was a nice counter-balance to the far more brash actions of Amy and Raquel. Raquel’s brother, Tyler, played by Arinzé Kene, is one of the highlights of the episode, despite only appearing for a few minutes. He helps mediate the off-kilter dynamics of Crazyhead’s female heroes, and is a great addition to provide moments of comedic levity.
Not the most promising start, yet I think there’s still something to be said for the show as it is very much still in its infancy. With any luck the tenuous dynamic between Amy and Raquel will settle in the coming episodes and the more minor characters will come to the fore, as the trailer suggests. Watch it below.
Crazyhead airs on Wednesdays, at 9pm on E4. The first episode is available to watch now on E4 Catch-Up.