Martin Carr reviews The Third Day…
This co-production between HBO and Sky executive produced in part by Brad Pitt is an intriguing Celtic cautionary tale. Cult like communities cut off by tidal currents combine with Pagan sacrifice and inverted Christian traditions to create a heady brew. Written by Dennis Kelly who also penned Amazon’s Utopia which airs this September, The Third Day is a creative departure in more ways than one. Being broadcast in three distinctive chunks denoted by the seasonal monocles Summer, Autumn and Winter, two of these will be pre-recorded while another goes out live.
Directed by Mac Munden events start in close up with images slipping in and out of focus. Jude Law plays Sam who for reasons unknown is wandering through an isolated wood in brilliant sunshine. Woodland glades and a sense of claustrophobic tranquillity define these opening moments, before he witnesses something truly horrific. His business is on the verge of collapse, he is emotionally raw and everything feels off kilter. When events lead Sam to the island of Osea things take a stranger turn.
Influenced heavily by The Wicker Man in terms of tone ‘Summer’ trades on ambiguities. Stand outs alongside Law in these opening two episodes include Katherine Waterston and Paddy Considine. As Mr Martin, Considine is a combination of relaxed affability, welcoming reassurance and emotional consistency. Waterston meanwhile plays the bohemian visitor who connects with Law and grounds events as she leads him into temptation. Grief and alcohol bind them together in an illicit liaison of marital infidelity, which soon turns into something more.
Stylistically ‘Summer’ is populated by brooding locals, derelict woodland dwellings and overtones of Hot Fuzz. Themes of loss are also explored while stand out support comes from John Dagleish’s Larry. Religious totems, blood soaked symbolism and saturated fever dreams pepper the latter portion with abstract imagery. Back story comes out through emotional confessions, while an acid trip segue only compounds the sense of unease.
As the darker histories of this island surface and Sam finds himself drawn further into a community defined by hedonistic excess, ‘Summer’ takes another turn. From psychological thriller to veiled murder mystery ‘Summer’ soon veers into territory not unfamiliar to fans of The Witch. Contemporary beliefs and old world traditions meld together as events gather momentum, leaving you unsure of time and place. Festivities reach a fever pitch, bonfires rage and things take a nasty turn. As a young boy disappears into the woods for one final time, something wicked this way comes.
The Third Day will air weekly on Sky Atlantic and NOW TV from September 15th.