A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Helstrom is a mature horror series focused on demons, possessions, exorcisms, and other dark, supernatural-themed elements. It includes a fair amount of blood, gore, and graphic violence, both of the fantastical/horror nature (characters possessed by demons, supernatural powers used to inflict pain,) and grounded in reality (murders by stabbing and strangulation, references to a serial killer's crimes.) A woman also cuts her hand intentionally, drawing blood, to use in an occult-like ritual.
Foul language, including "s--t," "a--hole," " hell," "hard-on," and "bitch," is occasionally used. A woman drinks alcohol to deal with stress/depression, characters drink socially, and there's a reference to a woman drinking while pregnant. The series contains some general themes about good joining forces to fight evil, but the focus is on horror elements, supernatural violence, and other dark, mature subject matter.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
HELSTROM follows the demon-thwarting adventures of Daimon (Tom Austen) and Ana Helstrom (Sydney Lemmon.) The estranged siblings, based on Marvel Comics' characters, are the offspring of a serial killer father and demon-possessed mother. The series digs into their mysterious background and tragic upbringing, but primarily focuses on their current-day, occult horror-themed exploits. Both are flawed individuals that are more brooding antiheroes than comic book superheroes. They leverage their own supernatural abilities -- possibly derived from a sinister source -- to combat powerful, otherworldly entities, as well as exact vigilante justice on human evil-doers.
Is it any good?
This horror series based on some lesser-known Marvel Comics' characters immediately subverts expectations, but can't keep up with itself. The opening scene, starring Daimon -- one half of the series' brother-sister, demon-hunting duo -- goes out of its way to poke fun at tired genre elements, from a possessed youngster speaking in tongues to the holy water used to put him in his place. But while this promising opening hints at an inspired take on well-trodden territory, the show quickly falls victim to the familiarity it seemed to be side-stepping early on. From creepy mental hospitals and haunted cemetery crypts to nonsensical journal scribbles and piercing violins, the series trots out one horror trope after another.
The abundance of formulaic trappings would be fine if the story, characters, and setting elevated them in some way. The brooding antiheroes, grim, rainy environments, and tales of demonic possession, however, do little to separate it from the pack. There's the occasional frightening scene and some interesting dynamics between Daimon and his sister Ana, but even with all the blood, supernatural powers, and hell-spawn, the series feels surprisingly bland. If you're a fan of the source material, Helstrom might be worth a look to see how its characters compare to their comic book counterparts, but horror enthusiasts craving some fresh frights won't find much to scream about here.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Daimon and Ana's relationship. How are the siblings alike? How are they different? What kind of relationship do you have with your siblings?
What positive traits do you recognize in the main characters? What are their flaws? Do you think the positive aspects of their personalities outweigh the negative ones?
Families can talk about comics and superheroes. Why do you think they're so popular? How do they tell stories differently than other mediums?
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