The Devil's Hour Review: Devilishly good, divinely metaphorical

The British psychological thriller is a stunning six-part serial based on the forensic exploration into a serial killer’s mind, interlocked with elements of time travel and the supernatural


Sushmita Bose

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Published: Thu 10 Nov 2022, 9:14 PM

In an age of hits and misses, and reduced attention spans, it’s almost impossible to come across a series so riveting that you cannot help but binge-watch. The Devil’s Hour is a crime thriller, with shades of (what you think is) the supernatural and time travel (therefore sci-fi), that I thought had a corny title — but, luckily for me, I overcame semantics and watched it. At the end of the uninterrupted and momentous binge, there was only one line to say: this is the best thing I’ve watched in a long, long time.

The entire six-part series keeps jumping in and out of various timelines, always confounding you with more and more layers of possibilities of the human mind — and, by extension, the great and enigmatic metaphor of life.

There’s an ensemble cast, and I don’t want to be tiresome and say how superlative everyone is — because they all are, without exception. But special shoutout to the diabolical serial killer, who, in the end, makes maximum philosophical sense; the creepy kid who gives Damien of The Omen short shrift; and the woman who holds it together — the mother of the child.

The music. What do I say about it? It’s like an opera building, and even if you switch off the dialogues, you may just be able to figure out what’s happening, every twitch of emotion, every flicker of fright merely by listening to the ebb and the flow. It’s a fitting testament to the incoherent lyricism inherent in The Devil’s Hour.

Lucy Chambers is a social welfare worker, living in a small county town, who rehabilitates abused kids; she’s newly single but shares an on-off relationship with her ex-husband Mike (Phil Dunster). They have a young son Isaac (Benjamin Chivers), who, for want of a better word, is downright creepy. His face never registers a reaction to anything; he keeps repeating himself, in monosyllables; has this unsettling penchant for suddenly fetching up at all places at odd times (like the middle of the night) and staring at you inscrutably… and he has imaginary friends and claims to see people when others can’t. In short, there’s something overwhelmingly unfathomable about him, he’s almost like a husk, and yet, there’s nothing medically wrong with him. He’s so creepy that his own father is scared of him and refuses to spend time with him.

Lucy suffers from nightmares, where there’s invariably a trail of blood and some spooky visions, and is jolted out of sleep every single night — at 3.33 am. In clinical terms, that’s called the Devil’s Hour, the time of night, usually between 3am and 4am when one cannot sleep. Her nightmares have a sense of déjà vu, she feels she’s seen the line of action somewhere, sometime, but cannot put her finger on it.

It’s against this background, that a series of murders take place, and the case is handed over to DI Ravi Dhillon (Nikesh Patel) and his partner DS Nick Holness (Alex Ferns). The duo chance upon a trail that leads them, strangely, to Lucy, and from thereon to Gideon Shepherd (Peter Capaldi), the man who — from the looks of it — is the killer. But what is the link between Lucy and Gideon? And how is Isaac, the creepy kid, in the middle of it all?

Peter Capaldi, in a throwback to the grandeur of Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs (without the cannibalism), is a treat to watch, and makes you a sucker for his twisty wisdom.

Finally, despite the killings, the hairpin bends and (the alternating) slow burn, there is no way you will emerge out of The Devil’s Hour without feeling elevated.

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