Beyond the Walls MiniSeries Review
Written by Karin Crighton
Released by Arte France | US Premiere on Shudder
Directed by Hervé Hadmar
Written by Hervé Hadmar, Sylvie Chanteux, and Marc Herpoux
2015, 104 Minutes, Not Rated
Premiered on Shudder on October 20th, 2016
Veerle Baetans as Lisa
Geraldine Chaplin as Rose
François Deblock as Julien
Beyond the Walls is a suspenseful three-part French miniseries surrounding a mysterious house that is more than it appears.
Lisa lives a cloistered life. Never recovering from the loss of her sister as a child, she can't date, make friends, or face a life involving anyone else she might lose. When she suddenly inherits the house across the street from a man she's never met, she is hesitant to accept, but a beautiful old house in Paris is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so she finally moves in. Unfortunately for Lisa, something was there before her, beyond the walls. And it won't let her leave.
It's impossible to tell the whole synopsis without giving away some amazing twists and turns; Beyond the Walls is a complicated take on the old story of facing purgatory while you're still alive. Lisa (Veerle Baetans) isn't alone in her struggle to escape the house, but it isn't always clear in what stage of life or death or un-death her companions exist. Or even what those people? Creatures? Things? Are supposed to represent. That being said, Beyond the Walls is still engaging and creepy as hell.
A miniseries is the perfect way to convey this story. The writers introduce elements of romance and tragedy that would be awkward and forced in a three-hour movie, but split into episodes, the progression makes sense and rounds out Lisa's past and present beautifully. Veerle Baetans has a great desperately-tired-but-still-alive-with-fear expression that she deftly employs, and her subtle hints at Lisa's loneliness in spite of her self-deployed exile are crisp. She carries the miniseries on her back without resorting to false action-hero bravado or damsel-in-distress romanticism. She knows she has to face her demons and does so without comment.
It's nice to see a good old haunted house story without a plethora of CGI and unrealistic fight sequences. Lisa's very real and makes mistakes, something most people can relate to. They don't have mystical knowledge about how to escape, they struggle like anyone would. They regret the past and miss those they've lost but know at some point if they can't let go they'll never move on. In that sense, Beyond the Walls is a frank and beautiful series about life after death, and the choice we all have to make between the two.
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