On Halloween, Netflix Finally Got It Right


This Halloween, Netflix released two of its best shows and finally broke the curse of its terribly flawed original films.

Netflix is a bit like Pinocchio. It so wants to be a real boy, that it risks turning into a donkey.

In its latest efforts to compete with classic Hollywood studios, the biggest video streaming service in the world has done deals with some of the biggest actors and directors working in the industry.

Okja, starring Jake Gyllenhaal and Tilda Swinton, brought Netflix to the Cannes International Film Festival this year and secured a nomination for the prestigious Palme d’Or.

Meanwhile, Netflix managed to attract names like Angelina Jolie, Brad Pitt, Jerry Seinfeld and even Martin Scorsese.

The dream of becoming a proper film studio was beginning to look pretty real.

But, in film, being big and being great is seldom the same thing.

Last year it was A24, a small indie distributor, which nailed the best picture Oscar with Moonlight.

This year, the same A24 has secured some of the best films in the run, leaving the expensive box office flops for giants like Warner Brothers or Paramount.

Sadly, it looked as if Netflix might be going down the same unfortunate road.

Being a novice in film production, the streaming giant seemed to always over-stretch the length of its original films, leaving a sometimes botchy final edit to premiere on our screens.

Okja is a weird film, which sometimes promises greatness but ultimately loses itself in unnecessary plot points and boring scenes.

The same can be said of Brad Pitt’s nearly-funny War Machine or every Adam Sandler film Netflix has ever produced.

The same happens with its original shows. What was once a game-changing Daredevil is now a boring and mainstream group of superheroes.

What started off as a brilliant political satire, is now a crumbling House Of Cards.

Netflix, I thought, had lost its appeal. Apart from Aziz Ansari’s refreshing Master Of None, there was nothing really worth “binge watching” – an expression Netflix proudly coined as its own.

That is, until this Halloween.

Earlier this month, Netflix re-teamed with David Fincher to create a bold, slow-burning crime show which has briefly taken us back to age of quality drama, where the viewer didn’t need to be surprised every episode, where each season finale didn’t automatically become a trending hashtag on Twitter.

Mindhunter, about the dawn of criminal psychology at the FBI, is a cerebral show which nabs its viewers without having to resort to extreme violence or over-explicit sex scenes.

With it, Netflix has proven it is not just about leftover superheroes and true-crime TV shows. It proved it still has the grit of the small company who started off delivering DVDs by mail.

Adding to that, it also decided to capitalise on one of its biggest successes, Stranger Things.

The retro-est sci-fi show ever made premiered its second season on Friday, just in time for Halloween, and has already proved it was worth the wait.