Open Netflix at any given time, and the “trending” menu is inevitably peppered with true crime—tales of murder, cults, scandal, and beyond, all rendered with a stylistic polish that makes binging salacious tales really feel like a not-utterly-trashy expertise. Black Mirror is aware of you possibly can’t tear your eyes away from true crime, a topic it places via the wringer in season-six episode “Loch Henry.”
“Loch Henry” very particularly pokes into Netflix’s personal model of true crime—the place the main points of monsters, victims, and grisly proof could fluctuate, however the visible execution tends to share a comforting same-ness that any common viewer will acknowledge. “Moody piano chord,” muses Pia (Our bodies Our bodies Our bodies’ Myha’la Herrold), envisioning the opening shot of the documentary she and boyfriend Davis (Peaky Blinders’ Samuel Blenkin) hope will curiosity well-liked retailers like Streamberry, Black Mirror’s dead-on Netflix clone. The couple, who met in movie college, head to Samuel’s Scottish hometown aiming to chronicle a neighborhood naturalist, however plans shift as soon as Pia hears a couple of grotesque occasion that rocked the group just a few many years prior. It’s not one thing Samuel is keen to revisit, however he can’t keep away from the subject as soon as Pia begins asking why the quaint village is a ghost city moderately than swarming with vacationers.
We shall be discussing plot twists for “Loch Henry” under, so for those who haven’t watched the episode but, right here’s your notification.
“Loch Henry” is directed by Sam Miller (I Might Destroy You) and written, like all of season six, by Black Mirror creator Charlie Brooker. No time is wasted in establishing the setting (beautiful countryside) and the dynamics between the principle characters, as Davis and Pia pull as much as the comfy cottage the place his mom, Janet (Monica Dolan, who performed a completely completely different character in season-five Black Mirror episode “Smithereens”), awaits their arrival. Regardless of a little bit of tradition conflict and generational awkwardness, Janet is clearly pleased to host her son and his girlfriend. These early scenes are sprinkled with nuggets that come into play later: the lingering presence of Davis’ father, Kenny, a police officer who died just a few many years prior and is much-missed by his spouse, however much less so by his son, who barely remembers him; Janet’s stack of VHS tapes containing what seem like each episode of Eighties British crime drama Bergerac; a classic camcorder that occurs to be round the home; and the truth that Pia can’t get a cellphone sign. At just below an hour, “Loch Henry” needs to be environment friendly about its foreshadowing.
Although Davis is dedicated to their unique documentary matter, you possibly can’t blame Pia for pushing—laborious—for a change-up as soon as she hears concerning the space’s very personal boogeyman. The story spills forth courtesy of pub proprietor Stuart (Daniel Portman, Sport of Thrones’ Podrick Payne)—a brash childhood buddy of Davis’ who makes jokes about pronouns and wokeness, coming throughout like an enthralling however tactless bulldozer. This lack of filter proves helpful for the more and more curious Pia, and it opens up a hell of a flashback as Davis and Stuart regale her with the main points: in 1997, a honeymooning couple abruptly vanished into skinny air. The circumstances have been so puzzling the story briefly commanded screaming headlines, till the loss of life of Princess Diana took over the information cycle, and that was apparently that.
“Till someday,” Pia prompts, an keen gleam in her eye, and the outdated associates end the story, which picks again up within the very bar they’re sitting in now. On the time, it was run by Stuart’s father (The Mummy’s John Hannah), a person who now exists in a state of fixed inebriation. One night time, a daily patron named Iain Adair—a nondescript village child—started appearing unusually, making bizarre statements and threatening his neighbors. Quickly after, the younger man shot his dad and mom after which himself, and likewise managed to (non-fatally) shoot the cop who’d adopted him house: Davis’ father, Kenny. Within the aftermath, Pia is thrilled to listen to, investigators found Iain’s secret torture dungeon and proof of many extra victims. It’s juicy, and it’s precisely the sort of true-crime story Netflix, or Streamberry, would gobble up: “Quaint little village, however for years this Hannibal Lecter dude has been working a loss of life den? … The main points are so terrible, it’s irresistible,” Pia exclaims.
Davis takes a bit extra convincing—his dad was critically injured, in any case, one thing he reminds Pia was “actual, not fucking content material”—however he comes round. Stuart is jazzed, predicting that the movie will lure vacationers again to the city. “I’ve even acquired a drone you should utilize!” he crows, as a result of it wouldn’t be a Netflix-style doc with out loads of aerial photographs. He additionally has a trove of archival materials his late mom saved concerning the case, which he fortunately palms over regardless of his father’s grumbling. The wheels are in movement for true-crime triumph!
However after all… that is Black Mirror, which suggests there’s at all times one other shoe ready to drop. First, Pia and Davis need to discover a manufacturing group to fund their movie, and the haughty exec they communicate to isn’t initially bought on it. They want a hook—“one thing unseen, unheard, unexplored,” which is why they find yourself breaking into Adair’s boarded-up basement, a supremely cinematic and creepy location, toting Kenny’s camcorder for max Blair Witch vibes. So far as Black Mirror episodes go, “Loch Henry” is surprisingly mild on know-how themes. However that shoe we’re ready on drops, big-time, because of some classic tech: a type of Bergerac VHS tapes, which Pia discovers additionally comprises irrefutable proof that Davis’ dad and mom—the late cop and the soft-spoken widow making shepherd’s pie within the subsequent room—have been ghoulishly enthusiastic individuals in Adair’s horrific crimes. We see grainy footage of terrified victims tied up, screaming via their gags. We see Janet dancing round in a shiny masks and latex nurse outfit, brandishing an influence drill.
The foreshadowing isn’t fully delicate in “Loch Henry,” however the suspense nonetheless manages to be razor-sharp. The story shortly shifts from “Loch Henry” to Loch Henry, a title that eagle-eyed viewers can spot on the Streamberry menu in one other season six episode with some very meta themes, “Joan Is Terrible.” With that unmistakable moody piano chord and people opening drone photographs, the episode turns into the true-crime movie itself, crafted precisely the best way we knew it could be—with Davis and Pia now foregrounded because the filmmakers who came across the best story of their careers.
Solely, Pia’s useless, having unintentionally perished whereas fleeing Janet’s home in fright. After her secret was uncovered—and after she didn’t chase down Pia—Janet took her personal life, leaving a stack of homicide mementos labeled “on your movie” behind. All Davis has now could be Stuart, who was appropriate in predicting Loch Henry would lure vacationers again to the world, and the smarmy group of producers who hog the mic when the documentary inevitably wins a BAFTA—and who’re already greedily plotting a dramatic collection adaptation of Davis’ story.
For Davis, that is all too actual, however whether or not he likes it or not, it’s most positively “fucking content material” now. And because it seems, as Black Mirror pokes into the thought of tragedy being exploited for a particularly curated kind of leisure, it’s contained in one among its most nail-biting episodes to this point. A secret torture bunker hidden underneath a farmhouse, a filmmaker with a tangential private connection who units out to doc the story, solely to find he’s extra intimately linked to it than he ever realized? You possibly can see why Streamberry pounced on Loch Henry, and why “Loch Henry” is such an pleasant episode. The main points are so terrible, it’s irresistible.
Black Mirror season six is now streaming on Netflix.
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