FX is home to a very wide variety of series. From raunchy comedies to twisted thrillers, you can find just about everything on the network. The latest new series certainly fits with the latter, though it is a bit difficult to classify it with any one specific genre.
Black Narcissus follows a group of nuns who have been tasked with transforming an old palace in the cliffs of the Himalayan mountains into a convent. It doesn’t take long for them to learn that there is more to this palace than meets the eye however and they may just be in over their heads.
Black Narcissus is probably best described as a dark and suspenseful psychological drama. It has elements of horror and certainly provides a spooky backdrop and story, but it is also far from anything that will keep you up at night. It does however build an uncomfortable energy that is sure to keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
With that being said, it does seem to force suspense at times where there really is none. The eerie setting with its crumbling walls and howling winds create an uneasy ambience, but in the early going of this series at least, one scene after another builds to a potential scare without any actual payoff.
One thing that setting does deliver however is some truly beautiful imagery. In the stretches of this show that move slowly without much really happening, you always at least have the breathtaking scenery to enjoy as the nuns continue to lay out the issue they’re having with their school that never seem to actually have any impact on the story.
Unfortunately, those dull stretches and fright-less scenes seem to make up the majority of this series. There are plenty of enjoyable scenes throughout this new series but given the very long runtime of its three episodes, they are certainly outnumbered. The pacing of the series, while consistent, could stand to be sped up a bit as there are a lot of very slowly developing scenes.
While the story of this thriller may lack any real thrills, it’s certainly at no fault of the cast. The one benefit of those slow-moving scenes is the opportunity the actors are given to really deliver their best performances. Gemma Arterton, who plays Sister Clodagh, commands the screen and somehow has an easy chemistry with with he costars in a show that quite literally allows her character to have none. Aisling Franciosi, who plays the troubled Sister Ruth, delivers a great performance as what is more or less the unwilling antagonist.
The cast is really what drives this miniseries. If not for their uneasy energy and tension, and the expertly crafted creepy music, we likely wouldn’t even be aware of the horror elements in this series. The story may leave something to be desired, but the performance will not.
Overall, Black Narcissus is far from the most exciting thing you can find on television. To put it simply, it’s a psychological thriller without the thrills. It moves slowly and feels longer than it needs to be. Still, aside form the actual story, there is very little to dislike about this series. The cast does a terrific job and there is a fair amount of suspense, even if it doesn’t really lead to much.
Black Narcissus premiered tonight on FX but will begin streaming tomorrow on FX on Hulu.
Mike is a writer that has covered comic cons, theme park events, video game showcases and other fun events. He is a fan of theme parks, sports, movies, Marvel Comics and is a self-proclaimed “nerd.”