Jeff Astrof, Sharon Horgan
Courteney Cox, Greg Kinnear, Gus Birney, Merrin Dungey, Dylan Gage, Mira Sorvino
What’s The Story
Patricia "Pat" Phelps (played by Courtney Cox), a former "wild kid" who became renowned for publishing raunchy female empowerment novels, and her dysfunctional family relocate from the city to a rural village after she is found cheating on her husband. The family had moved into a house where awful horrors had occurred in the past. Except for Pat, who believes she is either unhappy or possessed, no one appears to notice anything unusual. Pat has been sober for 16 years but is beginning to feel dissatisfied in life — she has yet to write her second novel, she can't remember the last time she had sex with her husband, and her teenage children have matured to the point where they don't want their mother in their lives. The demons haunting the family's new house soon become much more real. Will Pat be able to rid herself of the visions of the demons? Or does the demon have other plans? Well, you’ll have to watch the show to find out.
Courteney Cox, well remembered for playing Monica from ‘Friends’ manages to pull off another hilarious performance. Even though there is loads of dysfunctional family drama written into the script, Cox manages to bring forth a mixed bag of humour, and sarcasm and still keeps the horror feel kicking till the very last episode.
Mira Sorvino and Greg Kinnear play great supporting roles. Kinnear as the trying-to-be-supportive husband is hilarious in quite a number of scenes. Sorvino manages to bring a fun yet unpredictable feel to every scene she is in.
The writing of ‘Shining Vale’ by Sharon Horgan, Jeff Astrof, Jill Blotevogel, Julieanne Smolinski and Lindsay Golder is layered and makes every character feel quite relatable. Whether it is the kids who’re grown up enough to not want their mother invading their privacy, or it’s the therapist who seems utterly disinterested in his job, or it’s the bubbly-as-ever estate agent who wants to desperately make a sale – every small character has been finely etched. As each writer has picked up different episodes to write, there is a certain flair that changes from episode to episode, which comes out really well. However, showrunners Jeff Astrof and Sharon Horgan ensure that this difference in writing doesn’t affect the overall screenplay and it all looks like a great package together.
The editing of the show by Gardner Gould, Antonia de Barros and Joel Griffen is superb. They’ve managed to keep the average run time of every episode around 29 minutes which doesn’t let the audience want to walk away after a full episode and compels the viewer to want to sit and watch another episode.
Tim Phillips’s music is the major shortcoming of the show. Neither is the background score scary enough in the horror scenes to make audiences want to jump out of their seats nor is the opening score that enticing. The opening score feels like the opening score of some B-Grade horror movie.
The cinematography in a horror film has to be exceptional to ensure that the audience is feeling every bit of the scarefest. Sadly, that didn’t happen in ‘Shining Vale’. Despite there being an entire woods by the lonely mansion, it’s not explored that much. There is a scary tree house out of nowhere in the woods, and that hasn’t been shown enough. The horror feels in such shows and films comes from showing how secluded and away from mankind the mansion is set, in which the lead couple has moved in to stay. But in this show, the outdoor scenes are kept to a bare minimum which doesn’t get the excitement of the horror to what it was capable of.
Courteney Cox has managed to pull off a great show. Not just with her performance but as a producer ensuring that the most writing was top class. Keeping aside the shortcomings, ‘Shining Vale’ is definitely one of the good horror comedies to have come up in recent times. This is surely a great One Time watch.