Shining Vale is an American horror comedy television series created by Jeff Astrof and Sharon Horgan. The series stars Courteney Cox, Greg Kinnear, Sherilyn Fenn, Mira Sorvino, Merrin Dungey, and Judith Light. The premise is a little stereotypical though, basically, a family moves to a small town into a house in which terrible atrocities have taken place. But no one seems to notice except for Pat (Cox), who’s convinced she’s either depressed or possessed – which turns out, the symptoms are exactly the same.
In many ways, Shining Vale is a typical family sitcom until you scratch beneath the surface of the plot and the characters. Main character Pat is a writer of raunchy female empowerment novels. Husband Terry (Kinnear) is a straight-laced insurance agent, daughter Gaynor (Gus Birney) is a horny high-schooler and son Jake (Dylan Gage) is a computer gaming nerd. However, the Phelps family is deeply dysfunctional scarred by psychological issues, which is exacerbated when Pat encounters Rosemary, the resident ghost of the new family house, and all hell breaks loose.
Now, the premise is promising and the actors by and large are competent but the tone shifts can be jarring – moving from comedy to horror is never easy to navigate – and it’s hard sometimes to tell if Rosemary is a harmless friendly ghost or a dangerous nasty demon! Thus, the plot can be a little messy and difficult to engage with. The entire process in which Rosemary is able to take control of Pat’s body is unclear – is it due to the drugs Pat is on or merely a function of Pat’s will? It is difficult to keep track but worth the time and effort.
If nothing else, Shining Vale was good fun with Cox shining as the neurotic Pat, it all ends rather badly for the main character so hopefully there will be a season 2 so that she can find her way out and back home! Recommended!
Now streaming on Starz.
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