As the Halloween weekend rolls in and quarantine keeps the trick-or-treaters away, it becomes clear that the beginning of the holiday season this year isn’t exactly brimming with the same excitement you’d expect. And while there are no new horror movies or costume parties to keep you occupied this Saturday, Netflix’s Ratched might just be the perfect binge to have you feeling spooked this Halloween season.
The first season of Ryan Murphy’s Ratched comes with 8 episodes that will leave your gut twisting as you watch Mildred Ratched’s story unfold. From beginning to end, there is never any possibility of guessing what’s coming next or who’s story will be more horrific. While it’s not Murphy’s best work, it still feels like the perfect show to snuggle up with your quarantine buddy to while you drink your pumpkin spice latte and indulge in Halloween candy.
“They really are God’s angels.”
Ratched series – S1 E1
The first episode begins in 1947 and introduces us to Nurse Mildred Ratched, who quickly becomes one of the most unreliable narrators I have ever encountered in entertainment. Within one episode, her ability to manipulate any situation to her liking becomes apparent, and from this moment on you are buckled into a story that will never cease to unsettle you.
The extravagance of costume and setting create an almost whimsical feeling, and the play on colors throughout the first episode alone sets the stage for eight episodes of a very different kind of color theory coming into play.
More than that, though, the soundtrack creates the perfect sense of unease throughout the entire season, so even when nothing particularly bad is coming, you can’t help but watch and wait for the worst to happen.
“It haunts me.”
Ratched series – S1 E3
Dr. Richard Hanover, a secondary protagonist throughout the story, provides the most unsettling storyline, in my opinion, that offers the majority of the gore. Episode three of the first season reveals the haunting backstory that brought him to where he is now in the timeline.
This episode alone is enough to make your skin crawl and your night sleepless. The intensity of the gore, the fear of what was happening in the moment, and the reality of the horror story made it difficult to watch — I actually had to pause and come back to finish it after a break.
Despite the difficulty, I actually found the horror of the episode up to par with the expectations I had going in, and even though it made me uneasy, it offered that gory horror experience I think we’ve all been lacking this spooky season.
“You don’t know what it’s like to be constantly running from who you really are.”
Netflix Ratched series – S1 Introduction
One of the most significant themes to the story is that you can’t run from your past, and that becomes apparent as it follows Nurse Ratched through all her experiences, hinders her love life, and shapes her into a person who cannot be trusted.
Not only Nurse Ratched though, but almost every character proves at some point they are not who they seem.
Edmund Tolleson is another complex character in the story, because his mass murder habits played against his inability to kill a rooster for a meal gives the audience the opportunity to feel sympathetic for him, and even question him as a villain in the story as he runs away from all he’s faced and all he’s done.
He is put in contrast to Dolly, a seemingly innocent nurse-in-training who has the killer instinct Tolleson can’t always stomach. By weaving Tolleson and Dolly’s storylines together, Murphy creates internal distress with the audience that offers less of that horror-driven fear, and more of a slow burn of anxiety as the mass-murderer gains a soul while the nurse-in-training seems to lose hers.
“This little game of cat and mouse.”
Ratched series – S1 E2
Critics seem to think the show is too disjointed and offers a disappointing storytelling experience. The first season only received a 61% on RottenTomatoes.
However, as someone who’s not looking at the show from the perspective of what it’s loosely based on, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest,” and as someone who recognizes and embraces the unreliable narrator that trends throughout the season, I’d have to give it a much higher percentage.
While not every storyline seems necessary to the plot, the constant question in the back of my mind of; Does Nurse Ratched mean what she’s saying or not? left me sitting on the edge of my seat, clicking “next episode” over and over as I tried to figure out who she really was. This constant questioning and unreliability left plenty of room for several pieces of the story that most of the audience probably would have never saw coming.
Ratched was automatically signed on with two seasons, but I think they could have easily left the story at its current ending. The plot twist and the largely unanswered question of who will catch who first is the perfect unsettling ending to leave the audience with.
It checks all the boxes for a Halloween fright, even if it is a bit too extravagant at times with the editing, and somewhat hard to follow with the main character who does whatever she has to to get what she wants, even if it means confusing the audience.
Overall, season one of Ratched gets 4 out of 5 spooks from me.