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Prime Video’s limited series, Swarm, takes you on a journey through obsession and madness, following the story of Dre, an obsessed fan of the world’s biggest pop star. She is shy, awkward, crazy, and even sympathetic, taking you on a rollercoaster of experiences with her. The series is created by Donald Glover, the maker of Atlanta, and Janine Nabers. Together, they successfully build a world that is unhinged, dark, and incredibly entertaining.
A Sneak Peek into Swarm
At first, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the show, but after the first episode, I was hooked. Swarm is a dark and engaging series that will take you into the mind of a super fan who runs a Twitter account for other fans. The Hive, as the fan group is called, is extremely passionate about their beloved artist, Naija. They viciously attack anyone who dares to criticize her. Although the story is fictionalized, it takes inspiration from real-life fan groups like The Beehive, who idolize Beyoncé.
At the core of the story is a disturbed young woman who swings in and out of her fantasy world, often resulting in gruesome violence. While the violence is off-screen for the most part, it’s still visceral and effective in conveying what’s happening. The show is presented in a not-quite-square aspect ratio with added grain. And this is what gives it a slightly gritty and seedy appearance.
As the series progresses, viewers get to know Dre and follow her as she moves from place to place. She leaves behind a trail of destruction in her wake. Each episode feels like a vignette, with a new time and location. Months have usually passed since the events of the previous episode when you jump to the next.
Episode six is completely different from the rest of the series though, presented as a reality TV show. While it does feel a little out of place, it effectively plays with reality and adds an element of confusion that keeps viewers engaged.
The show’s message is pertinent, especially in today’s online world. It highlights the dangers of obsession and becoming too invested in a fantasy world. Swarm is a cautionary tale of what obsession can do and how it can lead to devastating consequences.
Dominique Fishback as Dre
Dominique Fishback, from Random Acts of Flyness, is terrific in this show. As the star of Swarm, the entire series relies heavily on her phenomenal performance. With years of impressive work under her belt, Fishback’s turn in the series is a spectacular showcase of her talent. It’s ought to leave you in awe!
What sets her performance apart is her off-kilter physicality. Her twitches and tics create a sense of body horror that will give you goosebumps. While the horror elements of the show fall under the slasher genre, Fishback feels like a tale of demonic possession guaranteed to make your heart race.
Direction, Sound Design, and Technicalities
As if that wasn’t enough, the shrewd sound design adds to the intensity of her choices. Swarm features the unsettling buzz of an active hive whenever Dre is pushed to emotional extremes. The series is shot with the extreme expertise, with an eerie sound design that builds towards intense endings.
Glover and Nabers have taken the show in various intriguing and distinctive directions. Now, this could come off as disorganized to some viewers. However, their distinct directing style manages to captivate one through every episode. The strongest part of Swarm has to be the technical aspects. They’re easily on par with Euphoria. The cinematography, directing, performances, sound design, and lighting are all just fantastic!
Most Anticipated Guest Appearances
What’s more, Swarm features some delightful guest roles. But none more exciting than Billie Eilish’s portrayal of a sinister leader in a women’s cult inspired by NXIVM. Her chilling depiction will send shivers down your spine! Meanwhile, X Mayo, a former Daily Show writer, also graces our screen. He has proven to be NBC‘s trump card in American Auto and brings the same explosive energy to this show. This performance of his leaves a lasting impression you won’t soon forget!
While watching Swarm, I found myself rather let down by the lack of a clear direction. The show unquestionably brings in a chock-full of twists and turns that will keep you on the edge of your seat. But there is no clear final goal for one to connect with. And this ultimately detracted me from my overall viewing experience.
Sometimes it felt as though the series was trying too hard to be action-driven without actually providing a clear sense of purpose or direction. This led to pacing that felt slow and somewhat disjointed at times. Plus, the finale introduces an intriguing plot point that could have had a more impactful ending if it was earlier. It is worth mentioning that episode 6 had a fantastic twist that I thoroughly enjoyed. But it may not be to everyone’s taste.
Swarm is seven episodes long, with each around 30 to 35 minutes. The shortest episode lasts only about 26 minutes. That is great if you’re looking to watch a quick series that doesn’t take much of your time. But owing to its short runtime, it feels like the themes of the show briefly describe the obsession and grief. They have definitely been explored in more detail.
Nonetheless, Swarm is stacked with drama, laughs, and brutality. Thus, making it a must-watch for anyone looking for a thrilling and engaging series.