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Apple TV+ Home Before Dark [2020] (1 Viewer)

AlexF

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I just discovered this series on Apple TV+ a couple of weeks ago through my 10yo daughter. She'd seen a trailer for it on YouTube.

It's loosely based on the true story of Hilde Lysiak, a (in the telling of the story) 9yo girl in grade 4 who is a journalist. She and her family move back to her dad's hometown of Erie Harbor, where an abduction tore the town apart 31 years earlier. The trails of that mystery weave through the ten episode season and the story is well told through a mix of flashback and modern day situations and some excellent editing between the two sequences.

It features Brooklynn Prince as Hilde, Jim Sturgess as her father, Louis Herthum (aka Andy Broom from the final few seasons of Murder She Wrote) as the town Sheriff, and Michael Greyeyes as the convicted kidnapper and killer, Sam.

The show states that it is for 14+, but my 10yo was able to cope with all of it, even though some of the material was quite dark, and she was even ahead of the show in terms of jumping from clue to induction occasionally. One other thing to note -- don't skip the intro sequence, as they change it up (subtly) between episodes, depending on what clues have been discovered along the way.

Overall? Recommended, I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

Trailer:

 

Adam Lenhardt

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I look forward to hearing your thoughts on it when you get to it. :)
I subscribed to AppleTV+ for the second season of "For All Mankind", but that also gives me the opportunity to check this out.

Just finished watching the pilot, directed by Jon M. Chu. There were a few moments where the girl power theme felt a bit too on the nose, but overall I was intrigued. The main character, her parents, and her older sister all have the same first name as their real world equivalents. But by saying that this was "inspired by" the real Hilde's reporting, it allows the show to create its own mystery without being bound to the dramatically inconvenient facts of any of the real crimes that the real Hilde has covered.

The show wouldn't work at all without Brooklynn Prince, who is strangely credible as a 9-year-old crime reporter. Her Hilde is extremely precocious, but not in a cute way. Nor is her drive to investigate portrayed as an entirely good thing; it is a compulsion, and a compulsion that causes her a lot of unnecessary struggle. She is the rare child who knows exactly who she is and what she wants to do with her life, and she's willing to accept the consequences of that.

Jim Sturgess's American accent is only so-so in this, but there's a really unique father-daughter dynamic -- especially given that there are things in his past involving this sleepy small town's must famous and heinous crime that he would rather his children not know about.

There's a bit of a "Justified" reunion here, with Abby Miller as Hilde's attorney mother and Joelle Carter as the principal of the school who is mixed up with the crime Hilde is investigating.

The last thing I'd seen Kylie Rogers in was ABC's short-lived horror drama "The Whispers" when she was playing a little kid. So it was a bit startling to see her show up here as a teenager. She does a good job of conveying older sister Izzy's thought processes; both her frustration at her little sister's inability to fit and and be normal, and her protectiveness and admiration for the qualities that makes Hilde special.

Alex said he watched this show with his 10-year-old daughter; I found myself wondering as I watched the premiere who the intended audience was for this show. The crimes are deadly serious and extremely dark, so I don't think it's targeted for kids, even though it has a kid as its protagonist.

In some ways, this show might actually be more harrowing for adults; we know just how vulnerable this little girl is as she prowls her new town unsupervised, chasing a murderer.
 

AlexF

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Alex said he watched this show with his 10-year-old daughter; I found myself wondering as I watched the premiere who the intended audience was for this show. The crimes are deadly serious and extremely dark, so I don't think it's targeted for kids, even though it has a kid as its protagonist.

In some ways, this show might actually be more harrowing for adults; we know just how vulnerable this little girl is as she prowls her new town unsupervised, chasing a murderer.
I think that (and I'm starting to notice this more and more with TV shows) we get a completely different view and takeaway than our kids.

My daughter seemed to take two major things away from the first season: "That kid does a lot of dangerous things" and "why is she seeing and finding things out that the adults can't?"

My only guess on the second is that as adults, we tend to let preconceived notions and biases colour our takeaways on things, whereas children tend not to have those (and if they do, it isn't so ingrained).
 

Adam Lenhardt

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I'm through the first half of the first season now, and I'm enjoying it. I really like the attention paid to the family dynamics, and especially how Matt and Bridget parent the kids. They're more permissive the most parents in some ways, but they also hold the kids (especially Izzy and Hilde) accountable in ways that many parents don't. And despite everything going on, Bridget still picked up on the fact that Izzy was struggling, and when she told Matt about it he listened and did something about it.

My frustration is that the other adult characters act a bit too juvenile for my tastes. Maybe because we're experiencing most of this story through Hilde's perspective, but many of the adults feel more like children's idea of what adults are like than what actual adults are like.

I thought Hilde's friend Spoon was girl for most of the season, and only just realized that he is the same actor who played Charles Wallace in Ava DuVernay's feature film adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time. It speaks to generational differences that a school kid could be gender non-conforming like that and Spoon is not just not bullied, but his effeminate attire isn't even commented upon.

The Birdman in the fourth episode was a nice Boo Radley-esque character.
 

Adam Lenhardt

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Ended up watching the whole second half of the first season after work tonight, so it definitely succeeded in sucking me in.

The resolution to the central mystery felt like something out of a pulpy dime detective novel, with lots of sensational twists and turns. I think I was expecting a resolution that was more grounded, because the crime as initially presented was so horribly real seeming.

There is a lot that the show's Hilde gets up to that is patently ludicrous; if it had happened in real life, all three kids would be in protective custody. But Brooklynn Prince brings such a indefatigable resoluteness to her Hilde that you accept it in the moment. And she manages to be so driven and intense while also being extremely empathetic. Her compulsion to investigate isn't driven by ego, it's driven by people: her need to connect to her father, her need to root out injustice, her need to save Sam Gillis. It's clear that she cares deeply about all of these things.

On the other hand, the domestic drama within the family feels very grounded, even if the grandfather feels more like a plot device than someone reflective of my experience with dementia-sufferers. But seeing how they lean on one another, and especially how this married couple who has hit a real rough patch works through the issues that are haunting their relationship.

The season finale set up the next season's mystery well enough, as well as put some pieces in place to make Hilde's job easier. The second season is coming sometime this summer. They had shot three episodes and had just started shooting the fourth when production shut down in mid-March 2020 due to the pandemic. Production didn't resume until September. Given that the kids are at an age where they can grow a lot in six months, it'll be interesting to see if it's really obvious what was shot before the pandemic and what is shot afterward.
 

AlexF

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Ended up watching the whole second half of the first season after work tonight, so it definitely succeeded in sucking me in.
Adam: I'm glad that you enjoyed the show (overall) based on my recommendation above.

Like you, I'm looking forward to season 2, and my daughter asks me once a week (or so) when it's coming out... so... high praise?
 

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