coming of age

[Netflix Review] Spectros Season 1 (2020) ★★★☆☆

Mila, Carla holding the porcelain doll and Pardal driving in a car in Spectros season 1

Spectros is a supernatural ghostly Night on the Town which brings some gateway terror. 


Spectros is a new supernatural Brazilian Netflix Original that takes on a Japanse ghost story in the biggest Japanse community outside Japan in the district of Liberdade in São Paulo. It’s a supernatural horror story that will speak to teenagers and young adults. It addresses some general teenage problems in Brazil, but it has a social undertone as well about Brazil’s past concerning colonialism, slavery and racism. Although these social issues don’t overtake the supernatural story it’s well integrated into the story, giving it more depth and even a few historical insights as well. But the main focus is on three teenagers who get caught up in a ghostly and dangerous affair. 

This first season consists of 7 episodes each with a duration of 36-60 minutes. It has a bit of a slow start, while the story unravels and the characters are introduced, but the second half picks up the pace while the story moves forward and becomes more and more a perfect gateway horror. It’s highly recommended to watch this series with its original Portuguese audio and with subtitles in your own language, if possible.


Plot

In the district of Liberdade in São Paulo, Brazil, three teenagers each struggle with their own anxieties. Their lives take a dangerous turn when they get involved in a supernatural sinister plan of a necromancer, but their lives get intertwined as well, forging their enmities in vast friendships. 


Why you should watch it

This series has a slow start, due to the way the storyline unfolds. The story begins when they are arrested and interrogated, which can slow the story down. The real story about how they got arrested, the crazy unbelievable evening they have had, unravels by means of flashbacks, which are shown in a non-chronological order. Unavoidably this means some scenes are shown multiple times to eventually get a good picture of the whole story. 

Each time you get some more information and pieces of the puzzle fall into place, and when they do at the beginning of the second half of the season, it all comes together and the story is pushed forward in a more rapid speed. Things are really taken up, the characters get more room to develop, the story unravels, there’s more to the mystery than we or they could have imagined and it gets really exciting, more fun, and more magical. 

In the second part the series really comes to live. The first part of the story is a setup of what is about to come next and the characters are introduced. The second part the story gets really started and the events continue from thereon, and it gets playful and scary at the same time. 

The story is kept small and simple, giving it an intimate vibe so the focus stays on Mila, Carla and Pardal and their families. 

The story takes place in just one day, and one night. It’s a roller coaster of incidents in which the characters get to know themselves better as well as each other. The second half the characters get to have more fun, and so do we. 

But their lives and living conditions have a serious undertone as well. Mila is a Japanese girl, timid, smart and ambitious, who worries about her drunk father all the time. Carla used to be her best friend, but now they are enemies and Carla is a school bully. But Carla also has terrible headaches and she hears voices in her head. Pardal has to take care of his younger brother Leo since their mother left them and he takes on some criminal jobs to earn money. It’s a nice take that none of them really know each other (anymore) and that they aren’t friends, but this night changes them for the better.

The special effects aren’t always the best, but the gripping storyline makes up for that.  Although the three creepy catholic demon ghosts are scary and threatening. The story unfolds in an unconventional way. The mysteries are carefully kept at bay the first part, only to break loose in the second half to really let the supernatural gateway horror in. The ghosts who eventually become more like the undead are creepy at times, but have a social undertone as well. The series mixes the Japanse culture and folklore and the social issues concerning the Japanse Brazilian people, but also the native people from Brazil, the Africans who were enslaved and the colonials who overtook them. And it still echoes through Liberdade. 


My favorite part

I really loved little Leo. His storyline brings in some heartbreaking moments, but he is a very realistic kid. He’s smart, brave and his relationship with Pardal gives their story real depth. Leo, like Zeca gets more room the second half, and they both bring in some much needed humor and comic relief that was mostly absent the first half.

The decor of the temple of the Japanse witch Zenobia is original with its wooden boards that make up a creepy maze. But when the three kids flee for some Chinese gangsters and end up in a karaoke bar, the series sets a new kind of tone. The old bartender wants their secrets as payments, and they have to sing to find out what they are up against. Resulting in an almost surreal but hilarious moment when their story, their adventure is shown to them in a music video clip. 

This new series looks like it’s struggling with its tone in the beginning, but it’s all part of a fresh setup resulting in a Night on the Town with ghosts, a necromancer, Japanese folklore, and a great sinister plan that endangers the world. 


Ratings

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Epic factor: ★★★☆☆

Scare factor: ★★☆☆☆

Drama factor: ★★★☆☆

Entertainment factor: ★★★★☆


Cast and crew

Spectros is directed and written by Douglas Petrie. Its stars Danilo Mesquita (Pardal), Enzo Barone (Leo), Cláudia Okuno (Mila), Mariana Sena (Carla) and Pedro Carvalho (Zeca).

Cinematography: Uli Burtin, ABC. Production companies: Moonshot Pictures, Great Neck Films. Original network: Netflix.


Check the trailer below