[So we’re watching?] Mortel, the new French series from Netflix

Netflix has surprised us with its horror series Marianne. The platform is charging again with Mortel, a new series made in France, which this time is part of the fantastic roster.

Since Les Nouvelles Aventures de Sabrina, Netflix has signed a second deal with the devil, but this time for a 100% French production. The hexagon seems inspired in 2019. Just two months after the horror series premiered (check out our review of Marianne), Mortel is taking effect. The series will be available on the platform on November 21. The series created by Frédéric Garcia, directed by Simon Astier, comic series director Hero Corp and Edouard Salier, was awarded in 2014 for his photography of the short film Havana. With the usual quirky superheroes of French style and Edouard Salier’s dark and dramatic photography, Mortel could only pique our curiosity. It all started with the disappearance of Reda, Sofiane’s very strange brother. The latter, a high school student in the suburbs, posted a search notice in an attempt to find him. Little by little, he shuts himself up in his grief, refuses the help of others and then meets Obé, a demonic entity. Desperate to find Reda, Sofiane agrees to make a pact with Obé. But, the young high schooler will not be alone in his quest. Victor joins the program. These two teenagers, who have absolutely nothing in common, will finally find common ground.

Very bad man

Human blood is the price to pay to save Reda. Sofiane and her new friend Victor, will make a blood pact that will bind their destiny. And at the end of this Faustian pact, they got the power of voodoo! Why not. But the fantastic sometimes unfortunately rings fake. Between the unreliable hypnosis and the exorcism bordering on mockery, one wonders if it wasn’t a bad LSD trip in the end. In Mortal, the power of voodoo is used for petty heroic purposes, and responsibility is taken lightly. Sofiane will take the opportunity to settle accounts with some bad boys from school. Here, power acts like a drug, an evil that wants to be consumed more and more and which will only increase: the man who has the impression of controlling everything while he is no longer in control of anything. Strength makes it possible to reveal the true bottom of a man. Mr Jekyll became Dr Hyde. And that, the series shows it very well.

Even if the series is anchored in a fantastical universe, the story is still quite realistic and believable. Most of the themes covered in teen films can be found there: alcohol consumption, search for identity, sexuality. The protagonists enjoy the eternal game of cat and mouse and ask themselves many questions about their love lives. Mortel also looks at the tougher subjects: adolescent suicide, violence, social class inequalities…

Realistically filmed, sometimes almost like a documentary, these various subjects are overall well treated in the series. Close-ups are connected and allow the viewer to feel more of the protagonist’s emotions. Be careful, too many close-ups will turn off close-ups! We are sometimes close to an overdose. Apart from a few slightly pinkish songs, the soundtrack is generally good and dynamic with lots of French rap.

On the other hand, we would have appreciated that the characters were a little more nuanced. We found in Mortel too many outdated cliches and the dialogue was sometimes quite caricature. Sofiane embodies a petty thug for Victor, he serves as the perfect, depressed foil who doesn’t feel out of place. But this fragile character will surprise us and will prove to be very endearing during the episode. The struggle for power will make the protagonist evolve. Sofiane even took too much of the flavour. So much so that we forget the central character: Reda. The series explores several sub-plots. Slight exaggeration: they end up undercutting the main story and sometimes we get lost in it. We have to hope that the rest of the episode will set this all up.