The Clearing (Mini Series Review)

From the 1950s into the 1990s the world experienced a rise in cults and/or the idea of cults. From The Manson Family, People’s Temple, Heaven’s Gate, to Children of God… clearly cults have always landed themselves a bad reputation. Australia’s The Family, operating from the mid-1960s to the late 1980s, was no different. However, this particular incantation was most infamous for the fact that it was one of the first known female lead cults in history.

The Clearing / Hulu (2023)

In the Clearing, written by J.P. Pomare, is loosely based on The Family. A fictionalized account of the new age group, in May of 2023 it made its way to the screen in the new Psychological Thriller The Clearing. An eight-part Hulu original mini-series first premiering on May 24th with part 1-2, part 3 on May 31st, part 4 planned for June 7th, and parts 5-8 through July 5th, it follows a cult survivor who is plagued by her nightmarish past when a local girl goes missing. 

Adapted by Elise McCredie, Matt Cameron and Osamah Sami, The Clearing was artfully shot in Victoria, Australia. Directed by Jeffrey Walker, as well as Gracie Otto, the storyline of a woman dealing with emotional and psychological trauma from a cult is perhaps one of the most terrifying ideas. Making it that much more real, Teresa Palmer (Warm Bodies 2013, Lights Out 2016) gives a very compelling portrayal of The Clearing’s main character Freya Heywood. Other standout cast members include Guy Pearce (Memento 2000, The Hurt Locker 2008) as Dr. Bryce Latham, Erroll Shand (Safe House 2012, Savage 2019) as Henrick Wilczek, and Miranda Otto (The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers 2002, Annabelle: Creation 2017) as Adrienne Beaufort.

The Clearing / Hulu (2023)

While each gives a top shelf performance, the younger cast also give an excellent brainwashed performance in the series; especially that of Jeremy Blewitt (Celestial Bodies 2022) who portrays Anton. Furthermore, Harry Greenwood’s (Hacksaw Ridge 2016, The Nightingale 2018) portrayal of an adult Anton offers you a darker, bitter, more gritty wit to the character. Not to be overlooked, you also have Lily LaTorre’s performance as the kidnapped little girl, Sara aka Asha. In fact, LaTorre’s adaptation of Asha makes the tension between all the characters flow perfect.

A strong cast of characters that mesh together so well and seem to have just the right chemistry to bring this dark mind twisting story to life, in the end, Otto and Palmer really still the show. Our two main characters, Otto, masters the projection of charisma and power, while Palmer takes you in with her distraught, traumatized nightmare of a past life.

Which leads us to the standalone story of The Clearing itself, which is quite phenomenal. A rather tragic cult adaptation, the horrors that the children endure creates an overwhelming anger inside. Creating a slow build through each part of the miniseries that flows smoothly, when Asha is abducted and taken into the care of The Family, it becomes really hard to watch. Heartbreaking, you desire to help the little girl only to be disappointed when she soon vanishes… but there is still much more mystery to uncover. 

The Clearing / Hulu (2023)

All these factors in mind, The Clearing is a well put together series that keeps you on the edge of your seat. Held together with a strong plot, real-life undertones, tension building score, a dark dreary atmosphere and stellar acting, Cryptic Rock gives this mini-series 5 out of 5 stars. 

The Clearing / Hulu (2023)

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