‘The Clearing’ Review: Hulu Delivers with an Excellent Mystery Thriller

The Clearing Review
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Hulu might not be one of the most popular streaming services out there. That is the truth. Even when it has been packaged in several ways with Disney+, it seems like the service is a hidden gem. This is the best classification for Hulu, as it periodically manages to deliver great shows with excellent production values and a solid cast. The streaming service is back at it again with The Clearing, a new mystery thriller miniseries based on a novel that is also partially based on real-life events. It is an exciting piece of material that will surely find its audience, no matter how small.

The Clearing is a TV miniseries developed by Elise McCredie and Matt Cameron for Hulu. The miniseries is an adaptation of “In The Clearing,” a novel written by J.P. Pomare. The novel itself is a fictionalized retelling of what happened in real life regarding a cult known as The Family. The Family was active in the 1960s in Australia and became a well-known case both within and internationally. The series stars Teresa Palmer, Miranda Otto, Guy Pearce, Julia Savage, Hazem Shammas, and Kate Mulvany.

The Clearing becomes part of a genre that has been very hard to define. The cult genre has been explored in all kinds of other environments many times. We have science fiction cults, cults made in fantasy settings, and horror cults.

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The idea that the human mind can be twisted and manipulated to such an extent is quite captivating because it makes us scared, and if there is something audiences like, it is to experience danger from afar. The Clearing does good at taking us through this scary scenario and guiding us through it.

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The series becomes especially frightening and uncomfortable because the cult mainly deals with manipulating and brainwashing children. Children are supposed to be innocent beings, and when adults start doing what they shouldn’t do with them, it is a line that is quite defined. A line no one will forgive another for crossing. So, many of the characters on the show cross it without thought and become immediately dislikeable because of it. Is it scary? Sure. But it is also quite engaging and interesting to watch.

Especially because The Clearing really takes the telling of its story very seriously. Instead of telling us everything at face value, the show, just like the book, starts by telling us bits and pieces of the mystery, and it takes part of our effort to piece them together to realize what is actually happening. The show’s beginning will certainly be confusing for many people out there, but if you pay enough attention to all the details, the big picture begins to form very quickly. There are still many twists and turns that will keep even the most attentive audience members on their toes.

The series consists of eight episodes, and they will be released weekly, so there is no binge-watching for this series, at least not in the meantime. Although. I think most of the audience will find the series interesting after it is finished. Each episode finishes with a powerful tease for what is to come, and you will definitely see many frustrated people just wanting to know what is happening in the next episode. Most of them will probably wait an entire week to find out, and so, I truly believe many people will wait for the entire season to be available and eat it in a couple of sittings.

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The series is not designed for those audience members who have attention issues. The series takes its time revealing its hand, and you can say that the breadcrumbs will not be enough for everyone. Thankfully, there is at least one reveal in each episode, and that maintains the pacing consisting. A new building block is always introduced and generally keeps things fresh. The writing has this very mysterious and also esoteric cadence, and it is a detail that helps the show have the proper atmosphere for this kind of story.

Of course, the strength of the adaptation lies in its narrative and how it is executed, thanks to the efforts of a fantastic group of filmmakers. The show looks beautiful, and most of the time, it manages to walk that line between being a show placed in reality and then going into this other dimension where everything looks a bit brighter than it should but not in the over-lit Netflix kind of way, but more like we are walking through a dream. This level of imagery will often make you doubt if what we see is the truth or just one more illusion.

Teresa Palmer has become quite an amazing presence on TV in the last couple of years. Here, we see her straight out of her run in A Discovery of Witches, and she is just as solid as in that show. Here she plays an overprotective mother and does an amazing job at it. Julia Savage also has a breakthrough playing one of the youngest characters in the show but showing that her age is not a limitation when it comes to her work as an actress.

Guy Pearce and Miranda Otto bring the full weight of their presence, and it is captivating to see how their characters transform along the way.

Ultimately, The Clearing has become one of the year’s best shows so far. Sadly, it will be one of those shows in which very few people end up, seeing as it is trapped behind the Hulu walls. I’m sure that it will find its audience later, once the season is over, and then it will get more attention it deserves.

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The cast does an amazing job, the writing is compelling, and the production values are solid. The show can indeed be a bit confusing to some, but those who stick with it will find an excellent show that will leave them wondering where the story is going at every corner.

SCORE: 9/10

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