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Season 1 of "From" Knows How to make A Monster

I was alerted to the show From by my horror buddy, my sister Jess (who also designed the hypnotic cover of Latcher). Currently airing its second season, From is about a mysterious town that travellers pass into but are unable to leave, and monsters come out at night to tear them to shreds.

I’d seen From suggested in my scrollings through Paramount+ — but my snobbish tastes let me pass it by because it looked, well, a little cheap somehow. I was wrong.

From is horror done right. There are many things I could focus on to tell you why, but I’d like to home in on the most horrorific element of the show: the monsters.

Tapping Into Our Fear of the Unknown

A major theme in horror is fear of the unknown. This base human fear can be used to great effect by not revealing the monster until much later in the movie. Take Alien for example, where you don’t quite see the monster clearly until the final scene, when Ripley blasts it out of the airlock. Movies that show the monster too early (some even show it in the preview for heaven’s sake) run the risk of losing the narrative tension that results from the audience’s fear of the unknown.

From breaks this rule to great effect. It shows you the monster in the very first scene but doesn’t lose the narrative tension around fear of the unknown. They accomplish this because, while you know what monster looks like and how it behaves right off the bat, you don’t know exactly what they are and why they do what they do. Are they vampires because they can’t come in unless you invite them? Are they zombies because they walk slow? Are they demons because they tear you to pieces? Are they ghosts haunting this cursed place?

Or perhaps they are all of the above? I’m well into season 2, and I still don’t know what they are. I just know that I would not want to meet one of them at night.

But Please Don’t Turn into a Soap Opera

To be honest, I don’t have a ton of criticism for the show. I don’t love the name of the show—it doesn’t quite pull me in? I still don’t know why it’s called From in fact. A couple of the actors aren’t the strongest, and I’m beginning to find the vignette style of the narrative a little formulaic. Each scene is written to build to a climax before moving on to the next scene—it starts to feel a bit like a soap opera lowered into the world of a horror movie.

But there are enough twists and turns and unknowns to satisfy my craving for great horror, that I don’t mind at all. This is one show I would highly recommend for horror fans.

And the Moral of the Story Is

If you reveal your monster early in the story, tap into our fears of the unknown in other ways.


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