In South of Hell, Maria Abascal is a demon hunter for hire. However, like those she hunts she is also possessed by her own demon, Abigail, who eats the evil that is exorcised from others. As Abigail becomes stronger she becomes more dominant and they start to fight for control. Unfortunately as promising as it sounds, South of Hell doesn’t really know what it wants to be and tries too hard to be something it’s not. It makes such an effort to cover all its bases that it falls short and occasionally ends up more like a bad Goosebumps episode. Hell, even the intro is Goosebumps-y. Seriously, this is the show’s intro set to the Goosebumps music. It works so well that it’s more eerie than anything in the actual show. I’m not kidding check out this fan video.
Viewer beware, you’re not in for a scare, nor are you in for a variety of creatures (other than demons having unique abilities), no comedic relief either and unlike in similar series it doesn’t even provide a half assed attempt at some lore and in my opinion if you’re going to make a supernatural show, that’s all I really need, half an ass of lore, not asking a lot… While none of those are necessary without any of them basically what you are getting is bland and monotone acting, very little emotions, heavily repetitive plots and godawful special effects.
SOH starts off very weak, the first episode is clumsy in practically every way, from the Colonel Sanders wannabe dad to the laughable special effects. It does pick up slightly for a couple of episodes but kind of peters out again around episode five and episode six is just a massive exposition dump because nothing had been explained up till this point. So rather than finding its footing in the later episodes, it just kinda gives up on even trying.
As I’ve mentioned it never really decides what type of show it wants to be, at times it’s sheer lunacy, with a possessed child sporting some colored contacts shouting “Bitch, I eat souls for Breakfast!”. Then at times it breaks out some “takes itself seriously” style dialogue, but to its credit when a scene works it tends to work well. To the shows credit it can be quite suspenseful at times, but much like the series in general there is occasionally some great build up. It’s just unfortunate that it rarely has the pay off it deserves.
The editing of the show is also odd. There’s often some strange vocal dubbing going on. As an example, there’s a scene where Maria is moving a box in to a truck and she has a full conversation with another character but only actually moves her mouth a couple of times and due to lazy editing it’s fairly noticeable. This happens so often that the production feels cheap and makes the acting appear blander that it already did.
There is also an awful lot of utterly pointless narration going on, and despite Maria being the main character none of it is from her point of view. Rather it’s from her brother David’s point of view. There’s no explanation for why David is taking the role of narrator, as far as we’re shown he’s not recounting the tales, he’s not reading from anywhere, not writing it down, he’s just narrating. It’s a perfect example of how lazy this show is and how the show often falls short of what it’s trying to be. Don’t get me wrong, when used correctly narration can add to a show’s production value. In SOH it is often used as a quick explanation to what, with a bit of planning, could have been displayed through how a character behaves or changes, allowing the viewer to put two and two together themselves.
Overall, South of Hell is a show that had potential and you can catch glimpses of the show it could have been. It has a strong basic story that was spread too thin, if fleshed out properly it could have been great but laziness across the board forced what could have been a great show in to a waste of time. Severely disappointing show and I expected more from something produced by Eli Roth.
At the time of writing it has yet to be cancelled or renewed so if a season 2 does comes around I hope that they spend some of their contact lenses budget on the quality of the show as it does show some promise.