REVIEW: ‘Swamp Thing’ Pilot Is A Frighteningly Promising Start

Swamp Thing DC Universe Derek Mears

DC Universe’s third live-action series Swamp Thing debuts on Friday May 31, and fans who are eager to see a modern comic book television series embrace the horror genre full-stop are in luck. The pilot episode, directed by Len Wiseman (Live Free or Die Hard) and written by Mark Verheiden and Gary Dauberman, showcases a promising start for this brand new series that will certainly be a breath of fresh air for DC Comics fans.

The pilot begins with an intense introduction to the dangers of this mysterious swamp in Houma, Louisiana. We see a trio on a canoe at night, with one of them played by R.J. Cyler (Saban’s Power Rangers). As they explore the swamp, we get a sense of the threats that this deadly swamp-borne virus brings to Houma.

Right off the bat, the pilot for Swamp Thing showcases the horror sensibilities that comic book fans have been craving to see in a live-action adaptation. The atmosphere showcased in the swamp itself as well as the rest of the environment that these characters inhabit promotes a sense of mystery and suspense, with some filmmaking sensibilities that seem to take inspiration from Sam Raimi’s Evil Dead films with the use of POV shots from the swamp threat itself as it inflicts terror upon its victims.

Given that James Wan (The Conjuring, Aquaman) is an Executive Producer on this series, it is no surprise that Swamp Thing fully embraces its horror sensibilities right off the bat, and much of that is thanks to how our main performers sell their reactions to such horrors around the swamp itself. In particular, we are introduced to Dr. Abby Arcane (Crystal Reed) and Alec Holland (Andy Bean) and how their respective characters are set up in a way that leaves the viewer eager to see what comes next in their journey.

Both Crystal Reed and Andy Bean portray their respective characters quite well, giving viewers a sense of their own history beyond the expositional information given to us in the pilot. They both sell their roles individually, but despite sharing some moments of flirtation during their interactions, the chemistry isn’t fully there, which is a bit of an issue given that their potentially-blossoming relationship is meant to be the emotional core of the series.

Along with Dr. Arcane and Alec, we are also introduced to the likes of Maria Sten as Liz Tremayne, Will Patton as Avery Sunderland and Virgina Madsen as Maria Sunderland among other supporting players. Given their brief introductions in the pilot episode, we only get a small amount of screentime for each of these characters, but it is Madsen’s Maria Sunderland that certainly leaves an impact on the viewers during a pivotal scene in which she expresses her pain to Dr. Arcane over the loss of her daughter a few years back, bringing back unsettling memories that Dr. Arcane would like to forget.

Overall, the pilot for Swamp Thing succeeds in giving fans what they wanted: a comic book horror series filled with tremendous atmosphere, skillfully crafted sequences of swamp terror and solid performances from its ensemble. Sure, the chemistry and supposed blossoming romance between Dr. Arcane and Alec could’ve been improved for a better emotional connection, but the pilot remains a promising start for a new series and once again shows that DC Universe isn’t playing around with their original programming.

Final Score:  7.5/10

Swamp Thing stars Crystal Reed as Abby Arcane, Maria Sten as Liz, Henderson Wade as Matt Cable, Jeryl Prescott as Madame Xanadu, Virginia Madsen as Maria Sunderland, Will Patton as Avery Sunderland, Jennifer Beals as an original character created for the series, Andy Bean as Alec Holland, Kevin Durand as Jason Woodrue, Ian Ziering as Blue Devil, and Derek Mears as the titular creature.

Swamp Thing will premiere on May 31, 2019, exclusively on DC Universe.

Noah Villaverde

Noah Villaverde

Cinema lover. Saxophone player. Coffee consumer. Chronic complainer. Oh, I also write. #TeamHeroic