By Amanda Moses
As the holiday season slowly approaches, many of us are gearing up to be reunited with family members over a delicious meal. It is during this time that the concept of family and being surrounded by the ones you love is especially underscored. In M. Night Shyamalan’s latest work, Servant, he explores the dynamic of one dysfunctional family through a psychological horror web series for Apple TV+.
Premiering on Thanksgiving Day (November 28th), Servant is a dark series that follows a young couple, Dorothy Turner (played by Lauren Ambrose) and Sean Turner (Toby Kebbell), coping with the death of their baby after health complications. The method they are using is called Reborn Therapy, which is using a lifelike doll that looks similar to their child to deal with the grief of a lost child. Infant mortality is a morbid topic that many people and directors avoid because it’s a difficult narrative to tell. Shyamalan’s ability to spotlight this taboo topic brings at the forefront our fears and the social stigmas that surround mental illness, which has endowed him the ability to tell such a tale in a compelling manner.
At this year’s New York Comic Con, the Spring Creek Sun was on hand to see the cast: Ambrose, Kebbell, Nell Tiger Free, Rupert Grint and Shyamalan sit on a Thanksgiving themed dinner table to discuss Servant in the series’ first ever panel. The cast spoke about the sensitive themes and how the story takes place in one set location, the Turner’s home.
In this series, the wife is convinced that the doll is truly her living child, so much so that she hires a nanny to take care of the baby. Her husband however, is only playing a long because he is trying to help his wife deal with the grief of their deceased child. The nanny, played by Nell Tiger Free, is a peculiar woman who does not seem to be a regular nanny. She does not acknowledge the strange fact that the infant is in fact a doll; instead she treats it like a child. Mr. Turner is highly bemused by this scenario, while his brother-in-law (Grint) is trying to find a comical side of this entire situation. During the panel, Shyamalan said: “It’s a real therapy…it gets so extreme that the mother decides to hire a nanny to take care of the doll. It’s sad but also super funny and that’s the kind of tone I’m interested in, like with Split and The Visit, where you’re so scared you’re laughing.”
From the trailer and clips, this web series is not for the faint of heart, but if you are interested in the topic or enjoy psychological horror, than perhaps you can enjoy your Thanksgiving meal while watching Servant. The trailer makes you feel as though this film will be a stranger version of Rosemary’s Baby, but we are not sure who the true monstrous villain is we only know the words, “Do you know, who you welcomed into your home,” which is repeated throughout the clip.
Photos by Amanda Moses