Swarm is the new TV series created by Donald Glover, actor producer screenwriter director young Lando Calrissian and especially pop-star behind the alias Childish Gambino, who literally broke through the world of the small screen with the masterpiece series Atlanta – whose four seasons are available in their entirety on Disney+ – and who has now moved into the home Prime Video with an astronomical first-look contract (under which a TV series reboot of Mr. & Mrs. Smith).
The story, played by Dominique Fishback, famous for The Deuce and Judas and the Black Messiah (and starring in the next film in the Transformers saga, Transformers: The Awakening), would appear to be inspired – to stay in the musical sphere – to the tracks Stan and its sequel Bad Guy by Eminem.: the music world is dominated by a mega super pop-star, such Ni’Jah (fictitious artist but blatantly based on Beyoncé) and the main character, Dre, an African American girl with severe psychiatric problems, is such an obsessed fan of it that she goes so far as to kill anyone who does not think like her.
A satire of the mainstream music scene, of show business and the relationship between stars and fan(atics), coming from an artist (Glover) who became famous for his music but decided to devote himself full-time to film and TV: beyond the kinky fun that will delight horror fans, however, you never really understand what the point is.
An effective series with nothing new to say
Do not hope to find in Swarm the freshness and originality that have distinguished (almost) every episode of Atlanta.
In this American Pshyco too indebted to the graphic style of Euphoria, in this King for a night that some believe Michael Haneke and a bit seems to want to tell the origin story of a young serial killer after Having seen Todd Phillips’ Joker too many times without understanding its philological meaning, there is never really a balance between the needs of a drama (to deepen the main character, Dre), satirical aspirations (the tone is accusatory, but toward whom?) and psychological horror impulses: Patrick Bateman’s psycho-sexual pseudo-fantasies were the result of the environment in which he moved, which created a strong ambivalence between reality and fantasy that Swarm evidently wants to try to replicate, without ever really succeeding.
The oh-so-arty pretensions of staging., then, do not help: from the faux-film grain to the sudden jump-cuts, from the repeated long-takes to the narrative ellipses, everything seems to shout ‘look at me, I look like a Sundance Film Festival indie film.’ But the truth is that there is very little originality in Swarm: even the most courageous episode, set up as a documentary that rereads Dre’s story from the outside but at the same time ‘defictionalizes’ Ni’Jah by replacing her with the real Beyoncé (her name is beeppelled, but you can read it on the characters’ lips) only complicates things unnecessarily, going In search of the least redundant meta-textual key.
For goodness sake, one can also have a lot of fun over the course of Swarm’s seven episodes…but underneath, the fun remains an end in itself.