REVIEW Hollington Drive (S1 E2/4)

Last week we were introduced to the inhabitants of Hollington Drive – a picture-perfect slice of suburbia where everything seemed just about perfect.

However, this being a domestic noir and all, the patina of perfection was was scrubbed clean thanks to a shocking event and exposed a festering underbelly. The disappearance of local lad Alex Boyd led to panicked mother Theresa (Anna Maxwell-Martin) finding that her son Ben (whose father had raped Theresa 10 years previously) was implicated in the disappearance.

Thrown in Theresa’s sister Helen (Rachael Stirling) and her own daughter Eva being implicated too, you suddenly had a tense noir story.

In this second episode (entitled in my house ‘What the bloody hell are you DOING?’) we saw how the frantic search for Alex was taking its toll on both sisters. Especially when Ben confessed to finding Alex’s body and claiming that Evie had suggested that they throw it in the water to absolve themselves of any blame.

Things got really interesting when Theresa and Helen interviewed their children alone, with both telling different stories – Ben said Eva had made him throw Alex’s body in the water, while Eva said Ben got angry and forced her to throw Alex’s body in the water. How this scene was cut together was impressive and really ratcheted up the tension.

The screw was tightened when Theresa tied desperately to get out of the whole her son had placed her in when she went looking for the body (and was found by the investigating policeman) and telling said copper that she had seen a dodgy-looking man around the area in the days preceding Alex’s disappearance.

She really wasn’t helping matters.

Her frantic attempts to get her son off the hook also saw her lock horns with Helen, who, quite naturally, believed her own daughter’s version of events. So suddenly it was sister versus sister, and Helen was playing dirty – Alex’s tablet found by his teacher (whose sole purpose seems to be to let Helen know things she didn’t know about Alex) was full of messages sent to Alex by Ben and Eva calling him a ‘fucking loser’ and wishing him dead.

What did Helen do? Deleted the messages her daughter sent Alex (whose body had now been found) to make it look as though only Ben had sent some.

Spicy.

But just as the episode pointed to the guilt of Ben and Eva, and Helen fitting up Ben for the murder, things took a further twist when the investigating policeman – a DS Parks (played by Jim Howick) – told Theresa that ALex had been killed not during the day when Ben and Eva claimed to have found him, but the night before.

This essentially lets the kids off the hook (because they were both surely tucked up in bed) and places the focus back onto the adults. It was a neat twist.

And indeed, this whole freight train of an episode moved much quicker than the first and felt it was really hitting its straps. I did feel in places that DS Parks’ breezy and slightly clumsy nature wasn’t suited to the overall teeth-grindingly tense tone of the overall story, and in some scenes that Anna Maxwell-Martin was channeling her Motherland character Julia a little bit too much (especially the scenes in the coffee shop). And of course it’s obviously all bunkum, but there was an underlying feeling of dread throughout and it made me generally feel on edge and uncomfortable most of the time – I mean, kids as suspects? Parents’ every worst nightmare? Descending down vortexes of noirish hellscapes? All very tense.

Paul Hirons

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

READ MORE: OUR EPISODE ONE REVIEW

5 Comments Add yours

  1. Keith says:

    This needs to get a bit more spicy next week otherwise I’m not sure I can put up with the snail’s pace of the story. So far the first two episodes could have been stuffed into one and the whole story could have been portrayed over three nights in succession.

    The bumbling mate who can’t reverse without hitting a plant pot seems to be a waste of time unless, from his comments last week about paedophiles, the new timeframe for the killing puts him in the frame for the murder…

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  2. marijo1951 says:

    I’m enjoying this, happy – as with any classy well acted thriller – to suspend disbelief and ignore the ‘bunkum’. However I’m not wholly comfortable, because I’m a bit disturbed about the effects on child actors of playing roles of this kind, especially when they are so convincing. I’m sure every provision is taken to protect their mental welfare and, of course, the parts have to be played by real children and not animatronics (as in the recent and, in my opinion, best forgotten film ‘Annette’ ) Nevertheless I can’t help having a few qualms.

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  3. Elaine says:

    Agree with Keith, it does need to get spicier next week; this episode although it had some great scenes, and the twist was fabulous, did drag, and I am hoping that it will push on from here rather than sink. I do wonder about the brother (but is he too obvious?) or Helen’s husband (but is that because I remember the actor from No Offence?). Are they the killer (brother) and Ben’s father (husband)? Or is it going off in a completely different direction?

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