Truly a cursed day, Reruns From the Crypt is back on schedule.
When I first reviewed Lars Von Trier’s The Kingdom, I questioned whether this series would be a suitable follow-up to the David Lynch cult classic Twin Peaks.
Having seen the second season, I can honestly say I don’t think I could have picked a better show to run with.
There’s a bit of an odd feeling going into the second series. Unlike most series where the continuation is usually pretty quick to follow, there wasn’t a second chance to pay a visit to the Rigshospitalet for three years.
Despite that time gap, the series itself still continues shortly after the events of the previous finale: Stig has returned from his trip to Haiti and ready to make a zombie, Mrs. Drusse has laid the spirit of young Mary to rest, only for other spirits within the hospital to emerge, and despite an attempted abortion, Judith (Birgitte Raaberg) has given birth to her child- sporting the nightmarish face of Udo Kier.
Like Twin Peaks, the show can be like a soap opera on acid. Given the director in question, it works.
I can’t say that the show has remained completely the same after three years. In this revisit, von Trier and his team have doubled down on several elements of the original series. For starters- and a bit of a surprising aspect-this series has upped the comedic aspects compared to the first series. There were a number of littler bits of humor: things like the interplay between Drusse and her son, the antics of Mogge (Peter Mygind), and, of course, the two dishwashers.
This time around, there’ are a lot more elements of the bizarre played for humor among more of the cast. Where Stig’s irritation with others had been a semi-recurring element, this series makes it seem like the universe has it in for him (and who could blame it?) and plays his karmic beatdowns to some wonderful comedic effect. Likewise, the hospital leaders’ secret fraternity is played for a lot more silliness on the idea of the respected authority figures carrying out ridiculous rituals in private.
To that end, after being somewhat oblivious, manager Moesgaard (Holger Juul Hansen) gets a lot more screentime this season, albeit often as the butt of the joke. This in particular comes care of one of the show’s newer additions ñ the hospital’s counselor, an outlandish and verbally abusive man known as Ole (Erik Wedersøe) whose ideas of counseling often involve insolence and/or group mockery.
Besides the comedy, the series also escalates the hinted coming chaos, both onthe administrative level as well as the supernatural elements. Where the first series primarily dealt in just one ghost, this series sees the Kingdom nowloaded with numerous spirits that have been unleashed since the end of the first series. It gives the show more moments of overt horror, which it handles fairly well, though it still seems to fare better where mystery is concerned.
Probably the strongest horror element of the series actually comes in the form of Judith’s child, who becomes a body horror presence over the course of the series -often filmed as Kier’s head on an increasingly deformed body. The effect is outlandish, but still appropriately disturbing. To the show’s credit, it does still manage to generate some surprising amounts of emotion out of this horrifying being- as strange as it is, the show still treats the character as a child in fragile health. With that in mind, Kier and Raaberg do an impressive job with finding the human side of this nightmarish distortion of the mother-son dynamic, even hitting the appropriate sad notes.
As much as this series ups the chaos, it still does a decent job of keeping all of the figurative balls in the air. There’s a lot of characters to go around, but never really a sense that anyone’s short-changed in terms of a plot.
Probably the biggest weakness of this show is what used to be one of the biggest problems for Twin Peaks -it ends with a lot unanswered. The difference here being, unlike Lynch, von Trier isn’t going to be revisiting the hospital in the future. He had considered it-in fact, he had even been writing scripts for it – but the fact is, enough time had passed. And more to the point, enough cast members had died. It really wouldn’t be the same to revisit. It’s the sort of thing that’s honestly out of their hands for the most part, but that style of storytelling does tend to make it a higher risk than not.
Some have speculated the unfilmed scripts were later picked up and employed when Stephen King adapted the show for a version set in America entitled Kingdom Hospital, but the accuracy of this claim remains largely unproven.
Like most sequels, this is one where your enjoyment of it varies in large part to how you felt about the first series. This has much of the same cast dynamics and pacing behind it, but it’s also got a much more outlandish story and a more active sense of humor compared to its predecessor.
If you enjoyed the first, odds are better than average you’ll be able to get on board for this follow-up. Just realize there’s going to be that unfortunate moment when you get to the end and realize that’s that. It’s still a solid piece of horror television, especially for this time of year. Mainly, it becomes a shame that it will remain unfinished.
Well, this makes for a heady double to start this project off with.
For what it’s worth, we’re sending this year’s selections off with something lighter to celebrate on.
So, keep an eye out. That will be going live on the 31st.
-Surprising elevation of humor works in the show’s favor
-Some good TV level body horror that still keeps the emotional aspects
-The incomplete ending, further added to by the number of cliffhangers in the finale
-The full-on supernatural may disappoint those who liked the first series’ slow buildup.