School of witchcraft and mis­ery

SFX - - Reviews - Other for­eign dra­mas avail­able via Wal­ter Presents in­clude Ger­man thriller Deutsch­land 83 and French drama Spin.

re­leased OUT NOW! 2014-2015 | N/a avail­able to stream for free Direc­tors Natasha arthu, Kas­par Munk Cast se­bas­tian Jessen, Julie Zan­gen­berg, Ni­co­laj Kopernikus, Julie Chris­tiansen, Fred­erikke dahl Hansen, Ka­trine rosen­thal

What do you get if you cross Twi­light’s veg­gie vam­pires with a Nordic de­tec­tive se­ries? Well, maybe some­thing a bit like Heart­less. The ques­tion is, why would you want to?

Set in a pres­ti­gious board­ing school, this eight-episode Dan­ish drama (orig­i­nally aired in two batches of five and three) fol­lows twins Sofie (Julie Zan­gen­berg) and Se­bas­tian (Se­bas­tian Jessen) as they try to nav­i­gate around power-mad pre­fects and strict house rules to find a cure for their shared curse. They’re af­flicted with a hunger that drives them to feed off other peo­ple – specif­i­cally, to suck out other peo­ple’s life­force through their mouths or, er, gen­i­tals, and if they suck too hard, their vic­tims spon­ta­neously com­bust. Ob­vi­ously that puts a bit of a damper on their love lives, and they’re keen to get the curse lifted. Their re­search has led them to the Ottmanns­gaard school, but some of the other stu­dents have sin­is­ter se­crets of their own, and if the twins’ se­cret gets out, it’ll get them killed.

Heart­less is one of the first in­ter­na­tional TV shows to launch in the UK this Jan­uary as part of Chan­nel 4’s new on-de­mand ser­vice Wal­ter Presents, avail­able free at all4.com/wal­terpre­sents – in case you’re won­der­ing, it’s named af­ter exec Wal­ter Iuz­zolino, who’s “cu­rat­ing” the slate. Un­for­tu­nately, though it has lots of po­ten­tial for drama and heart­break, it’s not a very good ad­vert for the chan­nel’s other of­fer­ings. Be­neath the moody colour pal­ette and grungy sound­track, it hasn’t got any of the in­tel­li­gence of The Killing, or any of the fun schlock­i­ness of some­thing like True Blood – it’s just a silly story about magic rapists look­ing for love. It’s hard to get in­vested in any of the char­ac­ters, be­cause they’re all hor­ri­ble; not one of the twins’ al­lies, lovers or en­e­mies is worth root­ing for, so even when the mystery is un­rav­el­ling, it never feels like it mat­ters.

It doesn’t help that the twins them­selves are too wrapped up in their doomed ro­mances to do any proper in­ves­ti­gat­ing, so the show just doles out in­for­ma­tion in the form of his­tor­i­cal flash­backs in­stead. There’s a glim­mer of some­thing in­ter­est­ing there, as sev­eral well-worn witch-hunt­ing tropes get turned in­side out, but be­fore it can prop­erly de­velop, it’s pushed aside in favour of more whing­ing. A lot of plot threads get sim­i­larly dropped along the way – a ghost shows up for one episode and is never men­tioned again, for ex­am­ple – while the ac­tual story un­folds so slowly you’d get the gist even if you just skipped straight to the fi­nale af­ter episode two.

The fi­nal episode ends on a cliffhanger, but even Ed­ward Cullen at his sulki­est was more ap­peal­ing than th­ese guys, so it seems un­likely any­one’ll be hun­gry for more. It’s an ob­vi­ous joke, but Heart­less kind of sucks. Sarah Dobbs

It’s hard to in­vest in the char­ac­ters, as they’re all hor­ri­ble

Shirley loathed be­ing tripped up.

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