Netflix Review: October Faction – Men in Black Meets The X-Files but Without the Talent (Spoiler-Free)

We get another show about a secret group of monster hunters, but this one’s about a family.

SUMMARY (Spoiler-Free)

There’s an organization named Presidio that hunts monsters. They don’t appear to be associated directly with any one government and operate internationally. Two of their agents are Fred and Deloris Allen (J.C. MacKenzie and Tamara Taylor), who pretend to be insurance agents to their 17-year-old twins Viv and Geoff (Aurora Burghart and Gabriel Darku). When Fred’s father Samuel (Stephen McHattie) dies, the Allens move back to Fred’s hometown of Barrington-on-Hudson to take a break. While Viv and Geoff deal with school troubles, Fred and Deloris find out that the small town is not as safe as they had hoped. 

Image result for october faction
They save a lot of money on bleach.

END SUMMARY

So, I can’t be alone in believing that this kind of premise is now slowly getting stretched thinner and needs a lot more work to stay believable. Harry Potter at least had most of the monsters and magical creatures reigned in by wizards who can adjust human memories and hide magical areas, but in this most of the monsters just kind of live in the human world and somehow hope no one notices things like fangs and gills. In the age of camera phones and satellite imaging, it becomes more insane that there would be a hidden world on this scale. They try to compensate by showing Presidio as having advanced technology, but nothing on the scale of, say, Men in Black, who only typically monitored a few hundred aliens at a time. I’m just saying, I’m running out of disbelief to suspend.

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This was the source material. I notice some differences in style and tone.

I’m also getting a little tired of the “twist” that humans might be monstrous to the monsters. It started with the book I Am Legend, but at least there it was focused on the idea that the main character was killing things he didn’t know are sentient. In this, one of the first kills we see is with a fairly likable vampire who the show tries to humanize… except that he and his wife had just murdered a guy in broad daylight so they could eat him. This isn’t True Blood, where at least vampires and such have alternatives to killing and thus can be integrated. Here, werewolves go crazy and kill stuff periodically, vampires have to eat people, and demonspawn have to sacrifice children. Sure, they show that some hunters are needlessly cruel, but any kind of metaphor for tolerance doesn’t really work when you’re essentially dealing with forced predation. That was one of the problems with Zootopia, although they at least handled it somewhat more gracefully. 

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If vampires just wrote ad copy and lived in the dark, no one would care. It’s the eating people.

The show does attempt to elicit some sympathy by portraying Presidio as preying on human magic users along with monsters, which both doesn’t make a ton of sense and also gets twisted. It’s like the show never decided who the bad guys were supposed to be in this show and they decided to make everyone kind of crappy to compensate. Motivations often don’t seem to make any sense in retrospect and the show really never gives us answers. I think they had a lot of character moments they wanted to get to and never figured out how to get their organically.

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Also, a swat team can take down most monsters, so… why are we concealing them?

To the show’s credit, some of the monster interactions are a little original and the family element is kind of interesting. There is a decent message in it about how violence only propagates violence. Eventually, when violence keeps escalating, all the lines between good and evil must blur and, in fact, the show does a great job of sacrificing some of its characters in the name of making that point. Still, it just never quite stood out for me. It might have done a little better if they’d tried harder to get the feel of the comic it was based off of, but the comic also wasn’t great, so… maybe Netflix just did the best it could with what it bought. 

If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All TimeCollection of TV EpisodesCollection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.

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