Monday, 19 September 2011

'The God Complex' Review

'Doctor Who' Series 6 Episode 11 - 'The God Complex'
Written by Toby Whithouse - Directed by Nick Hurran

It's unquestionably true that Series 6 has been on a bit of a winning streak since it's return with last week's 'The Girl Who Waited' being sumptuous, masterful television and the best episode of the series so far. Many including myself have anticipated this week's episode since preview clips arrived from Comic Con in July but will Whithouse's hotel of horrors cope under the immense weight of last week?

Plot Outline:
The TARDIS arrives in a seemingly normal hotel, but it soon becomes aware there is no exit in their current location and that every visitor to the hotel has their own personal room waiting for them. Behind each door lies one's greatest fear and the worst nightmare they have ever endured causing frenzy and soon death. Will The Doctor be able to stop the hysteria and horror before it's too late?

 Right from the opening scene, 'The God Complex' sets it's tone, atmosphere and mood - from crane shots of endless staircases, to slowly trickling through vacant and eerie hallways, viewers are aware instantly that this hotel is bad news. If any viewers are horror movies fans, they will recognise the hotel in a previous work too because this spooky stop-off is certainly modelled on the insanely scary hotel featured in Stanley Kubrick's 'The Shining' (1980), in fact it looks SO similar, it would not be a surprise if the 'Doctor Who' team got the original set designers of the film to lend them a hand. With this being said, it could be easy to take it as a criticism when in fact it's praise; who wouldn't want to take a second trip to that terrifying cavern of ghouls and ghosts?

 Thankfully, the nasty occupants in 'The God Complex' are a refreshing mix of new and old villains which will thrill and chill audiences as well as the TARDIS team. Clowns, puppets, Weeping Angels, attractive girls having a chat? Yes, everything one fears is here. But perhaps the scariest of all is the parading Minotaur who comes for victims after they have experienced their room and have begun to exclaim the phrase "PRAISE HIM!".

 In many ways, Whithouse's tale is not like a conventional 'Who' and more like a Psychological Horror condensed into 45 action-packed and incredible minutes. One minute, audiences can be entranced by the fear of the current moment and then, as quick as a flash be presented by a character dementedly cackling whilst the words "PRAISE HIM" flash on the screen in all epileptic glory - It was refreshingly frightening and gloriously executed.  As well as having a superior narrative and production format, it was also beautifully directed by Hurran who is able to make the hotel feel so claustrophobic even though it's endless. Tricky camera angles and spiralling shots were a-plenty and the episode greatly benefited from this.

 The episode was also full of little perks that put a big geeky smile across my face like The Doctor's room being number '11' and amongst the photos of lost souls in the hotel featured a very happy Marcus Wilson (the show's producer) and various villains in shirt and ties - a personal favourite was a Silurian. 

 But as well as being spooky and edgy, 'The God Complex' was littered with humour with the majority of it in the form of Gibbis played by the wonderful David Walliams; lines such as "Resistance is exhausting" were simply side-splitting. Our good old Time Lord had some laughs in him too, particularly where he "fires" Amy and calls Rory "Beaky".

 As usual, the performances were brilliant with Smith being the star. He is eccentrically bizarre throughout before crashing back to reality and creating sheer emotion and tear-jerking moments as he and Amy exchange kind words whilst leaning on an E-Type Jaguar. Gillan and Davrill were also fantastic and the episode ends with Amy being called 'Williams' rather than 'Pond' - it was a frankly touching moment and a satisfying conclusion. As previously mentioned, Walliams was hilarious and made Gibbis an extremely likeable if a little selfish tag-along.

 After last week's powerhouse of tears, raw emotion and questions of reality and human rights, 'The God Complex' softened the tone but increased the frights and it was a simply magnificent experience. Whithouse's hotel of horrors is something of a treasure and is amongst the series' highlights alongside 'Day of the Moon', 'The Doctor's Wife' and of course 'The Girl Who Waited'. Next week's 'Closing Time' sees the brilliant Craig (James Corden) return, Cybermen and The Doctor working in a toy store. Bring it on!

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