Wednesday, September 2, 2020

The Pale Horse

When it comes to Agatha Christie adaptations I find they are very hit or miss, especially since the BBC took over the rights back in 2014. There are a few adaptations that I haven't even been able to finish, I'm looking at you Partners in Crime. So it was with trepidation that I went into watching The Pale Horse, mainly because it was adapted by Sarah Phelps, a writer who views herself above the source material. After her stellar adaptation of And Then There Were None she decided to go her own way and force us to watch Toby Jones have sex in The Witness for the Prosecution, made Ordeal by Innocence about cold war fears, turned Poirot priest in The ABC Murders, and now made this very unremarkable adaptation of The Pale Horse that doesn't have anything going for it except a stellar cast left to do nothing. This adaptation tries to lean into the mood versus the meaning, and occasionally it succeeds. There's a very nice Midsommar vibe that could have been worked but instead was almost forgotten. The supernatural element could have been a corker, but again, barely touched on. In fact, of all Sarah Phelps's adaptations this is her biggest fail because it didn't even incite anger in me for some memorable WTF moment, instead it was completely forgettable. I kept wondering while watching it that perhaps it was constrained by the two one hour parts and if it was three parts like most of the other BBC adaptations it might have thrived. But then I realized, I did not want to watch three hours of whatever this was trying to be.


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