SYNOPSIS: Five teen girls deal with the supernatural fallout stemming from an innocent game of “Light as a Feather, Stiff as a Board.” When the girls start dying off in the exact way that was predicted, the survivors must figure out why they’re being targeted — and whether the evil force hunting them down is one of their own.
REVIEW: Horror stories based on nursery rhymes and children’s games is nothing new, but the results have not exactly been the best. Light as a Feather is the latest entry in the subgenre and takes the spooky titular game and turns it into the impetus for a series of supernatural deaths that may be more than meets the eye. But, where movies like OUIJA use the game as a central plot device, this new Hulu series could easily be mistaken for any number of similar teen-centric shows like Pretty Little Liars. Instead, this is a fairly predictable and by the numbers teen melodrama about cheating couples, bullying, and frenemies with a poorly executed twist that you are able to see coming from the first episode. Releasing just in time for Halloween, Light as a Feather has about as much depth as the title teases.
Light as a Feather follows four friends: Olivia, Candance, Alex, and McKenna. Each have their trademark character traits to help you keep them apart: Alex is a lesbian, Candace is the middle class girl trying to get out of Olivia’s shadow, Olivia is the richest and most popular girl at school, and McKenna is the perfect girl next door. McKenna has the most depth to her character, having lost her identical twin sister to an overdose. The four girls are closely knit and meet the new girl at school, Violet, who is just a little off. After a CARRIE-like prank goes wrong, the group invite Violet into their circle of friends and bring her to a traditional party at the local cemetery. It is there that Violet introduces them to a variation of the light as a feather game. For a moment, I thought this series was going to do something unique with the supernatural aspects of the game, but instead it becomes a pretty formulaic tale: each of the girls begins dying exactly how Violet stated in the game.
Now, I am all for a good, cheap scary movie like everyone else, but nothing about this series is scary at all. If anything, it is frightening how old it will make you feel to see these Millennials going through the motions of decades worth of superior horror. Each teen is so enveloped with their own lives that their struggles are hard to take seriously. There is one episode where they actually discuss setting up a GoFundMe page, I shit you not. The few adult characters we see are not much better as they are reduced to stereotypes like workaholic mother or Mommy Drinks Too Much. But, the focus for this series is squarely on the teen protagonists. As characters begin to get picked off one by one, you may find yourself reducing this series to a cheap mash-up of THE CRAFT meets FINAL DESTINATION, but that would be a disservice to both of those superior films.
The best actors in this series are Liana Liberato as McKenna and Haley Ramm as Violet. Both actresses are in their early twenties but do a decent job of coming off as actial teenagers. McKenna’s traumatic past is the focal point of a lot of the plot which draws parallesl to the new deaths with that of her twin sister. Ramm does the most heavy lifting as the mysterious Violet doesn’t always seem to be a normal person. In some scenes, you may get a flash of sympathy for the new girl at school trying to fit in while others make her seem like a psychopath orchestrating the sinister murders. But, neither gets the benefit of the viewer trusting them because so much of their melodramatic lives pads each episode. Having seen the first six episodes, it sometimes feels like the half hour chapters are twice as long.
Light as a Feather doesn’t work as the horror series it is being marketed as with the trailers feeling very misleading for the finished product. There are just not enough characters here for the viewer to really care about and the plot is so by the numbers, it feels like a rip-off of dozens of teen series on FreeForm or the former ABC Family. Each episode is structured for commercial breaks, as Hulu is known for, and each break ends with a cut to black and dramatic music as if that is enough to convince viewers that this show is spooky or has more to say than it actually does. Horror series have dramatically improved in recent years with multiple quality shows airing on other networks that demand your viewing over this show. If you like your teen soap operas with a dark twist, this series may be for you. Otherwise, you may want to skip it.
Light as a Feather premieres October 12th on Hulu.