I’m a huge fan of horror. In fact, it’s my favorite genre there is—it’s the most diverse out there. Horror can be so many different things, something that plays a key part in the true uniqueness of the genre. So I was thrilled to be able to get an early look at Topic’s upcoming new original series Soul City. The show is a Horror Anthology series made up of fifteen minute long shorts, created and directed by Coodie and Chike. The first season (which is only three episodes long) takes place entirely in New Orleans, with each short feeding off of the culture and vibe present within the famous city. Being composed of only a few small shorts, I felt the best way to offer up my thoughts was to simply go through each installment on their own. Spoiler free of course.
The first episode, “Grace”, is set in the past. Presented entirely in black and white, a key element of this short is its focus on the church community within the city. It follows a young girl whose step-mother is extremely religious, yet holds very little tolerance for anything outside of her own agenda. What I liked most about this installment was the intense sense of dread and uneasiness that was masterfully weaved throughout the narrative. The sense of culture was also at its highest point in this short, and the personality of the story was elevated because of it. Out of the three short stories, “Grace” came in as my second favorite—a very close second.
For their second installment, “Pillow Shop” took us back to modern day. Andrew has been having severe insomnia—a problem not even doctors have been able to help out with. At a loss, he’s recommended to a Pillow Shop that may be able to fix his ailment. I will say that out of the three, the intense cultural presence that is throughout the other episodes is at its weakest here—not to say it isn’t there however. That being said though, “Pillow Shop” is still my favorite of the three. It’s fairly original concept was fun, character struggles and dynamics were presented in a very quick yet effective manner, and it’s understated ending really helped add to this haunting tale.
The final episode, “The Give Man”, was the weakest of the three. It maintained the quality of the previous shorts, but was confusing throughout—leading to a question inducing conclusion. The story was about the classic idea of what if you could get the one thing you’ve always wanted? What are the consequences? And are you willing to accept them? There isn’t much to the short past these questions. While there’s still plenty of haunting imagery present, it never reaches the bar set by the first two episodes.
To be frank, there’s nothing overly amazing about any of the three installments. What I can say about all of them though, is that they are genuinely well produced—and are simply entertaining to watch. The short story format works really well, and each segment has an ebb and flow that keeps you engrossed for its duration. While I’m not from New Orleans, having only visited twice, it’s still easily apparent how much of the city’s culture and soul is etched into the very essence of the show. From the religious fanatics, to the back alley magic, to the small corner shops. Given it’s short run time as well, it would be hard for me not to officially recommend watching Soul City.
Soul City releases on April 30th, streaming exclusively on Topic.