Now streaming on Hollywood Suite, Wreck is a British comedy horror series from the BBC. The show stars Oscar Kennedy as Jamie, a young man who takes a job on board a cruise ship in order to investigate the mysterious circumstances surrounding his sister’s disappearance. As he tries to get information out of the crew who were with Pippa when she disappeared, Jamie soon finds himself in a brand new world on the giant cruiser. This puts him in contact with some weird (and often dangerous) individuals who only seem to embody the hostile environment of working on a cruise ship. Jamie must navigate all of this whilst he reckons with what Pippa’s disappearance means for the rest of his life.
The show’s strengths are found in its ability to be comedic while still playing with the conventions of horror and mystery genres (easily two of the most entertaining). Sometimes, the show does seem to take itself too seriously. The horror scenes done at this scale never really experiment or go beyond convention, leaving scenes that feel very stale and cliched. Luckily, most of the time this is undercut by the humour and the lack of seriousness that the show seems to be conveying most of the time. This allows the viewer to get into the show’s atmosphere more as you can simply enjoy the ridiculous but still, at times, creative horror.
The plot itself could have been more efficiently done. Being an LGBTQ show, the creator finds himself in an unfortunately unique opportunity to make these characters gay in a horror show. However, the way it is approached becomes bogged down as it doesn’t wrap its character development up in the plot enough. This forced development then undercuts beautiful moments of these characters starting to realize their sexuality but the way their romance is first developed seems very forced.
The series also struggles with its vast number of characters. Especially for this kind of murder mystery, having a solid group is a huge asset but this sprawling piece seems to introduce too many players just to kill off half of them. (One character in particular who sneaks onto the ship with Jamie in order to get his girlfriend back seems like he’s been placed there just as a plot device.)
Even so, the series still carries a strong sense of humour. The main supporting character, Vivian, is introduced in a way that establishes her character well. Once they set up these situations, they do get creative moments out of it. There’s a cool shot where two characters kiss and a buzzsaw creates sparks. It’s cheesy but the show knows that and is made to get the most out of moments like that.
The show tries to do scenes and deliver lines that by themselves are sharp satirical moments but, in the context of the show, come off as derailing its momentum. The show tries to tackle too much by creating humor out of the darkness of relationships, cruise ship culture, therapy and, at some points, the horror genre. (However, these moments never come together to aim at the main ideas in the first two episodes.)
The show’s creators certainly have some good writing ideas and they use the sets well to create this cruise ship but there isn’t enough strong storytelling to carry the great ideas along. Having said this, the show has more episodes and perhaps the moments that seem to derail the show will come back to deliver brilliance. It was renewed for a second season so there’s hope for this little series. Flawed, but full of flashes of great television.
Wreck is available on Hollywood Suite airing Thursdays at 9pm ET, with episodes available on Hollywood Suite on Demand following their premiere.