- Network: HULU
- Series Premiere Date: May 24, 2023
- Critic score
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Its practices are eerily reminiscent of modern American iterations, like NXIVM. That historical basis, and nimble fictionalized mystery led by a bewitching Otto, make The Clearing a captivating Aussie transplant that burrows deep into cult psychology and its lifelong effects, without feeling exploitative.
It’s great pacing for a thriller series with so much secrecy involved, keeping us curious and wanting to come back for more all the while still giving enough information so that we can start figuring some things out on our own. If the rest of The Clearing’s season maintains the same rhythm, this series will most definitely be a hit with mystery fans.
While TV often deploys split timelines to feign narrative depth and spring gimmicky twists, The Clearing’s temporal structure deftly elucidates the cult’s devastating legacy. Freya’s profound trauma courses through every scene she’s in.
Though at times these early episodes play like a procedural stretched across more episodes than necessary, the cast's work and the fascinating, repulsive story that inspired the series make it compelling enough to suggest it will be worth pushing through the rest of the series. Just don't expect, given how closely these first episodes stick to the facts of the case, what's to come to be any less uncomfortable.
The first episode of The Clearing left us too frustrated and confused for us to want to watch any more of this creepy cult thriller.
The three episodes shared with critics are muddled, unfocused, and lack any sense of world building or characterization. It’s further hampered by a banal, overly serious piano-laden score that is meant to evoke prestige, but instead lands the whole affair in the land of cliché.
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