What is the story about?
In 2020, Nathan, who is married to Holly, gets a sudden visit from a mysterious figure named Bob. It turns out Bob and Nathan are connected with the death and disappearance of a girl, Elise, in 2010. To make matters complex, Elise happened to be Holly's sister, and Nathan has hidden the fact from her that he was there with Elise on the night of her disappearance. Bob claims that Elise's remains have to be dug up, otherwise Elise's spirit will keep haunting him. He threatens Nathan that unless he helps Bob, Holly will get to know the truth. Fearing for his marriage, Nathan decides to lep Bob. But can he keep it a secret from Holly?
While watching The Sister, I could not help shake off the feeling I'd seen all of it before. There are a number of stretches where you will get reminded of Reema Kagti's Talaash. Perhaps that's the problem with this series: it feels too thin and derivative at times. Creator Neil Cross bases this show on his own 2009 novel Burial, but, instead of following the linear narrative of the novel, he wisely keeps things interesting up to a point with various flashbacks. However, you cannot help but shake off the feeling that this story is ill-suited for a miniseries. With the kind of material at play here, a crisp 90-minute feature film would've served Cross much better. Even though director Niall MacCormick does a competent job of translating Cross' world of guilt and the supernatural to the screen, Cross' writing is the big letdown here. In spite of building up a tense, ominous narrative, the series fals flat in various crucial stretches, and some plot points and decisions taken by characters make no sense at all. For a show that has been promoted as a "supernatural" thriller, that element feels like an afterthought shoehorned forcibly. A couple of big twists, that are supposed to liven things up, come too late and are not properly fleshed out. It's a big waste of some decent performances and terrific scenes.
As Nathan, Russell Tovey conveys the helplessness and moral ambiguity of his character quite well. The way he modulates his body-language while playing Nathan in 2010, 2013 and 2020 deserve praise. Bertie Carvel, who has already won two Olivier Awards and a Tony for his work on stage, makes a splash here as the shape-shifting, malevolent Bob. However, the female parts have been grossly under-written. Amrita Acharia's Holly is too one-dimensional, even though the actor tries her best to infuse life into her role as a grieving sister. Nina Toussaint-White does a decent job as Holly's friend and police investigator Jacki. Perhaps the shortest shrift is given to Sex Education star Simone Ashley, who only serves as a footnote in this labyrinthine narrative as the deceased Elise.
Music & Other Departments
Ben Wheeler is the Man of tha Match here. His cinematography complements the direction in vast stretches, and his use of shadows is terrific in the sequences set in the woods. Ruth Barrett's score in aptly ominous. Martin Kelly's art direction is decent.
The biggest highlight of the series is the way Nathan's life in a decade is spliced up into three different narratives, that parallelly run throughout the series. It serves to humanize him and make the viewer aware of his motives.
Certain sequences make no sense at all. When Jacki learns there's something suspicious about Bob, she keeps looking at his footage instead of alerting her superiors at the police force for arresting him. Also, Nathan and Holly's marriage is very inconsistently portrayed. In some sequences, they are very happy with each other, while in others, they talk about how they need urgent counselling.
Perhaps the biggest bane of the series is the character of Elise. She is portrayed as a party girl, and we see her inebriated, but, apart from a few framed photographs, there is no mention of the bond Elise shares with her family, or even Holly.
Did I enjoy it?
Some portions are good. On the whole, however, I found the series middling.
Do I recommend it?
You can give this a one-time watch if you have nothing better to do. But there are better thrillers and supernatural shows than this.