Helstrom

Credits

Cast

Network

Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

When Daimon and Ana Helstrom first graced the pages of Marvel comics back in the 1970s, their surname was actually “Hellstrom” and Ana went by “Satana.” (They were also the half-human children of Satan, so you can see why Marvel didn’t bother with subtlety there.)

In Hulu’s retelling, the siblings don’t carry quite that demonic pedigree, but considering their father was still a demon-possessed serial killer, that’s only by a small margin. However, Daimon and Ana inherited supernatural powers from dear old dad (such as the ability to exorcise other demons and suck the lifeforce out of men), and just like in the comics, they use those powers to exert their own brand of vigilante justice.

But using the term “justice” can sometimes be a stretch. Daimon and Ana both seem to get some sort of sadistic pleasure out of mentally torturing their victims before taking them out.

Not All Scars Are Physical

The siblings are understandably twisted. For the majority of their childhoods, their mother Victoria was largely unaware of her husband’s demonic little secret. When she finally realized the truth and tried to expose him, he attacked and cursed her, attempted to murder Daimon (carving a sigil onto his young son’s chest in the process) and kidnapped Ana before attempting to murder her as well by setting her on fire.

The kids survived, largely thanks to their supernatural gifts, but the scar on Daimon’s chest wasn’t the only residual effect of the ordeal. The curse their dad put on Victoria caused her to become possessed by a demon and go insane.

Despite the fact that his demon-exorcising powers don’t seem to work on Kthara (the creature inhabiting Victoria’s body), Daimon holds on to the hope that he can one day save his mom. In the meantime, he works alongside Louise Hastings (a former nun who helped raise him after Victoria was institutionalized) to exorcise demons—trying to prove that he isn’t like his father.

Ana, on the other hand, wants nothing to do with Kthara—or Victoria for that matter. She blames her mom for what their dad did and takes it upon herself to track down other serial killers and do away with them. And because she hates Victoria, she tends to avoid Daimon as well since he’s so gung-ho to save her.

But the siblings have to put these personal reservations aside when Kthara manages to set off a chain of events to bring back the demon who sired them. Because it’ll take a lot more than the occasional exorcism to stop daddy dearest.

“Knock and the Door Will Be Opened”

I’m not exactly sure who knocked on Hulu’s door to request yet another Satan-themed show (piggybacking on the popularity of shows like Lucifer and Supernatural), but I’m not sure it was a door that needed to be opened.

Thanks to television, we all know the typical tropes of an exorcism—weird body movements, speaking in unknown languages, projectile vomiting, etc.—but Helstrom doesn’t seem satisfied with these (because, as Daimon points out, they can all be faked). Instead, the show gives us half-eaten, demon-possessed corpses committing murder, demonic pregnancies that reach gestation in a matter of days and just enough hypocrisy in the church to justify the Helstrom siblings’ skepticism despite their personal affiliation with the supernatural.

Seriously, there’s a lot of blood and guts onscreen—often courtesy of demon attacks. Characters like Louise and Gabriella (a nun in training) both appear to be wholesome, Christian characters at first glance. But as the series goes on, Gabriella, at least, gives in to “living in sin.” We also hear several mentions as to what would happen if the two nuns were caught swearing and having drinks with demons. Language is another issue, with viewers regularly exposed to multiple curse words, including the s-word. Daimon warns Gabriella that if she doesn’t like what she learns about demons, she was the one who knocked on that door. And anyone interested in seeing Helstrom would do well to heed that warning as well.

Episode Reviews

Oct. 16, 2020, Episode 1: “Mother’s Little Helpers”

After a nurse helps two dangerous patients escape the hospital where Victoria is institutionalized, Daimon is convinced the event was somehow caused by Kthara. Meanwhile, Ana investigates a tomb that was ransacked by the escapees and discovers that they unleased a powerful demon.

A demon uses its powers to throw people around, strangle them, cause objects to move on their own (she makes a keyboard repeatedly type “No Mercy”), break things, and trick several people into following her orders. Ana uses her powers to suck a man’s lifeforce out before pushing him off a building. (We later see that he was a serial killer who strangled several women.)

Ana purposely cuts her thumb and wipes the blood on a demonic skull, causing an eye to pop out of the demon’s single eye socket. We hear several eerie whispers when some men break into a tomb and later when Ana examines the demon skull. Someone asks Daimon why he doesn’t use a Bible or crucifix to exorcise demons. Someone jokes about witchcraft. We see several unknown sigils painted and carved on walls.

A young boy pretends to be possessed by twitching his body and speaking in Latin. We see the number “666” as well as “a–hole” written on his bedroom walls in excrement. Daimon pretends to throw holy water on him to “exorcise” him and the boy tries to hit Daimon. Daimon uses his own powers to telekinetically stop the boy from moving and create a circle of fire around the pair. He then tells the terrified boy to stop lying to his parents and criticizes the parents for their parenting methods.

A nun in training wears a cross necklace. A former nun works as a doctor in a mental hospital. We see pictures of her in a habit and decorative crosses on the walls. There are several crosses covering graves in a cemetery. A statue of an angel with a sword sits in a mausoleum. A man crosses himself before burying a corpse. We hear several references to the Catholic church, and someone says that the Vatican is skeptical of allowing Daimon to perform exorcisms since he isn’t a priest. Scripture is quoted several times. Someone says “good heavens.” A woman is encouraged to forgive.

A man gets his head smashed into a sarcophagus by another man. He is then sucked into the sarcophagus by a demon that partially consumes him. Later we see several leftover body parts and bones. We see the remains of a man who was stabbed with a broken broom handle. A demon-possessed man with a gaping hole in his face (from where the demon partially consumed him) attacks another man. Someone talks about a sword that killed men, women and children. Patients at a mental hospital scream and beat on their doors.

Several flashbacks show (an unpossessed) Victoria getting beaten by her husband. (We later see bruises on her face.) These scenes also show a young Daimon nearly get stabbed by his father and Ana getting kidnapped by him.

We see a shirtless man getting a tattoo. A woman wears a revealing top. A woman talks about having sex with another woman to her (also gay) male friend. People make crude sexual references. We see a woman drinking vodka and learn that she is an alcoholic. People drink wine at an auction. A man drinks whiskey. A demon claims that a woman tried to kill her unborn baby by drinking lots of alcohol.

There are multiple uses of the s-word, as well as “a–,” “a–hole,” “b–ch” and “h—.” Christ’s name is also misused. A woman complains about “mansplaining.” A woman coughs up blood.

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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