“The lessons of fire, as we seek higher,” a voice moans as images of crows flying and blood dripping from the thorny stem of a rose fill the screen. “With eyes we’ve all come to know, he’s the devil in Ohio.”
There is a self-conscious ridiculousness to this theme song that is ultimately won over by the series it features, at least in one sense. Netflix’s “Devil in Ohio” isn’t so good that its mistakes end up making sense, but it’s so little embarrassed by its excesses as its flaws that it feels hard to criticize.
Here, Emily Deschanel plays Suzanne, a psychiatrist whose particularly challenging new patient, Mae (Madeleine Arthur), appears to be in dire need of shelter after escaping from a cult. Naturally, Suzanne brings her home, and of course Suzanne has three daughters (played by Xaria Dotson, Alisha Newton, and Naomi Tan) whom Mae can acclimate to high school life, or whom Mae can quickly exert her influence over. . .
The question of what happened to Mae in her upbringing, and what cruel lessons she learned from her misfortunes, is whispered rather than spoken at first; the first few episodes play into the portentousness of the Lifetime movie, with countless hints that something is, eventually, going to go wrong, if only because people with such gleefully bland and sanded-down character traits seem destined to see their lives interrupted. .
Characters played by Sam Jaeger (as Suzanne’s husband) and Gerardo Celasco (as a detective trying to get to the bottom of the satanic activity stalking the Buckeye state) float throughout the proceedings, but no person in this universe it feels really real. Mae’s traumas, which come to us quickly later in the series, are revealed too hastily to carry much weight, and Suzanne’s own memories of abuse feel insufficient to explain her many misjudgments and a bit of mercenary on the part of the program writers. . What Suzanne has suffered exists only to make sense of her story, which is not a novel, but “Devil in Ohio” feels so hastily written that the seams show too clearly.
Which is not to say that “Devil in Ohio” is boring. It has a cheekiness that amused me, like when the characters say “Go for the dollars!” or “Come on browns!” to remind us where they are. Came to mind (“30 Rock’s” Jenna Maroney filming a horror movie that also serves as a promotion for the tourist office for the state of Connecticut). previously trafficked program. But you have to go through a lot to get to that end point, much of it entertaining for reasons that may not have been intended.
“Devil in Ohio” premieres Friday, September 2 on Netflix.