Walter Presents – Heartless: Soul-Sucking Demon Thriller

Supernatural TV series have become a popular cult following all across the world. In modern TV drama it began – for the UK  – with the BBC3 show Being Human. Taking place in one dingy house in Bristol, a vampire, a ghost, and werewolf try to fit into society away from the seedy underbelly of their respective peers. The series took a different approach than other supernatural tales, finding a medium between drama and comedy by humanising the housemates instead of turning them into stereotypical monsters.

It wasn’t until True Blood (HBO) that sex was the new weapon of the supernatural. Luring men and women to bed, the vampire community offered an experience that no human could give. In turn this prompted a wave of unashamedly raunchy vampire flicks, moving the genre into something more sexy than scary.  That promiscuity is now synonymous with vampires and, in turn, any supernatural being of the same ilk. Heartless, one of Walter Presents first acquisitions, is no different, and is as smutty and feverishly naughty as we have all come to expect. Phoaw!

Heartless is a story of two twins, Sebastian and Sofie, who feed on the souls of others to survive. This hunger is an urge they can’t control and in a frantic bid to find out why it happens they go back to the orphanage where they grew up in search of clues. After searching through their mothers bag (which was left at the orphanage) they find a newspaper clipping of ‘Ottman’s Boarding School’, one of their first clues in the search for who they are. After enrolling in the school they begin to piece together how they acquired such sinister powers, learning of a curse long ago that was conjured on their ancestors preventing them from ever finding love. But they are not the only ones with these powers, and they are not the only family cursed from beyond the grave.

The narrative also takes us back to 1666, where the count, Christian Ottman, is found having an affair with another woman. Not only that, she is pregnant with his baby. And his wife is pregnant with his baby as well! Shame! Christian’s father, being the utmost gentlemen, decides that the woman is a witch luring Christian with her magical demon-born powers. As she is burnt at the stake she utters a curse on all of the future Ottman children. So then the curse of the ‘black eyes’ begins, sucking the souls of people forever more. not just that, it turns out the baby in the Witch’s stomach actually survives, and from then on the girls who are born in the family acquire the power of witchcraft. That family is the named ‘Just’, just like the family who own Ottman boarding school.

The Ottman boarding school is similar to one you would see in a quaint English village, with a great history and world renown reputation. So it’s quite amusing to see these two messy teenage kids go in and disturb that equilibrium. It’s this opposition that keeps the tension throughout the series, with head prefect Ditlev (Gustav Dyekjær Giese) determined to make the stay as unpleasurable as possible for the twins.

Love and lust are the most re-occurring themes in this series – with love being pure and lust being somewhat impure. What I mean by that is that the true lust, for the twins, appears when they are involved in a sexy moment and can’t control themselves. Love is more like when Christian won’t kiss that maid because he knows that he will end up sucking her soul. That is the difference and it’s quite a broad difference.

Heartless is trying to the fans of Twilight who are a little older and want something a bit more ‘sexy’. Perhaps this is a good demographic to aim for, but perhaps not. Twilight was released, the movie that is, in 2008, with Heartless coming 6 years later. It’s a big gap to assume that the genre is still as popular as it was back then. And to the surprise of Kanal 5, the channel airing the show at the time, it simply wasn’t. It saw a catastrophic slide in viewership as the series progressed dropping to an all time low of 30,000 for the last few episodes. Was that because of quality? Perhaps, but with the Danish audience being bombarded with such qualitative dramas why should they be watching something so obviously macabre?

What I enjoyed was learning the history of the series. it provided great historical background to the curse and the two families and gave the audience time to learn about the families from 1666 who still play a pivotal part in the present. Heartless is one of the very few Danish supernatural series. It doesn’t try to be as intelligible as Borgen or The Killing and it doesn’t have to be. Good storytelling, lots of sex, and a good range of characters – isn’t that all we need for a bingeable supernatural series?

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