The Umbrella Academy is a Netflix original TV show based on a comic book series of the same name. It follows a group of super-powered individuals, flashing back and forth between their traumatic childhoods under a tyrannical father and their dysfunctional adulthood. When one of their own returns from the future speaking of doomsday in the coming days, they must try and put their differences aside and find a way to stop it.
The Umbrella Academy Review
Hardly a horror show, of course, Umbrella Academy isn't out to break any records in violence and depravity. However, it pushes the boundaries of what's capable in a TV-14 show. It isn't afraid to get a little bloody and let the drug abuse bring about moments of levity. Umbrella Academy was a pretty unique experience in television that I enjoyed from beginning to end.
The characters have a wide variety of flaws and strengths that present themselves in an intertwining dynamic between them all. Their unique personalities ebb and flow from scene to scene, developing thick bonds to the audience as the grown-up versions of our characters reconcile with one another and their pasts. It comes with a near-perfect balance of drama, comedy and thrills as they battle vexatious time agents and try to solve the catalyst of the coming apocalypse. Each character earns their screentime, and there is a perfect spread in nearly every episode.
The show's subject matter and TV-14 rating don't make it entirely devoid of horror. One of the superhuman individuals, Klaus, speaks with the dead, and the father figure of the show wasn't exactly gentle with his training methods when Klaus was a child. You have the disturbingly chipper "Mom" robot, the half-human/half-primate monstrosity that tries to hide is experiment-induced disfigurement, a tentacle-wielding youth, and a handful of other characters that have their own moments of thrills and darkness.
In some ways, the show presents like a milder form of Preacher, in that it balances its characters motifs and themes as they all interact with each other and operate independently. The humor feels the same at times as well, though obviously the shameless delivery of Preacher knows no bounds. While I can't speak to Umbrella Academy's comic book, I can tell from comic clips alone that the show strayed away at least a little from the source material. And from what I can tell, the adjustments were somewhere between necessary and playfully effective.
When taking a break from horror, it's shows like these that I find entertaining. It has just enough of that brutality, dark comedy, and scifi/fantasy elements to satisfy, while being wholesome enough to provide a little eye bleach, sometimes even from itself.
Horror Rating System
Horror Qualifier: 5/10 Horror Quality: 3/10
Film Quality: 8/10