As the great vampire of the last decade seems to fizzle out, Netflix dropped another entry into the myriad of vampire media, and the best and worst thing about it is that it’s merely okay. It has brilliant ideas and pulls of certain elements with perfection, but in other areas it seriously lacks, thus holding back the series as a whole. So let’s take a closer (spoiler free) look at V-Wars Season 1!
Sci-Fi Blend of Vampires
Foregoing all the old religious and supernatural superstitions surround vampires, V-Wars starts with a virus being melted from ice and awakening a predator gene in many humans, essentially turning them into vampires. Those who have the gene will turn, and feel the need to drink human blood, and others seem completely unaffected.
The first two to encounter this are scientists (as well as best friends) Dr. Luther Swann and Dr. Michael Fayne. Swann seems to be immune, but Fayne noticed rapid changes, the most significant being an overwhelming urge to drink blood, which results in him committing murder and becoming a wanted fugitive. As many others begin to turn, they soon call themselves “Bloods”, with Fayne as their leader.
Meanwhile Swann works with the Department of National Security in order to research and hopefully find a cure. As they begin to target Bloods, who are feeding upon innocent people, a massive nationwide conflict begins. Both sides double down in their distrust and animosity toward the other. Both sides cross lines they shouldn’t, as even Dr. Swann begins to realize that DNS may not have his best interest in mind.
At its core, V-Wars has some very compelling ideas about the nature of freedom vs. security, as well as the rights of minority groups. It delves into all of these real life issues through the lens of science fiction and horror, but does so in a way that it feels very relevant. However, it is because of all this that it’s so frustrating that mediocre screenwriting and subpar acting get in the way.
The series never seems to really grasp the vast magnitude of the events that transpire. We’re dealing with a massive event that affects the national (and global) stage, but each scene dealing with this in is incredibly localized. We only deal with the same few people at the DNS (probably for budget reasons), and we constantly hear about the many Bloods throughout the country, but only ever see Fayne’s immediate group.
Ian Somerhalder (as well as Adrian Holmes) does the best that he can, but at times he’s really not given good material to work with. He really shines when Swann and Fayne (who also shows great range) have any scenes together, especially the tense ones later on. We really do get a strong sense of friendship and history from the two. His ex-wife in the series (and real wife in real life) Nikki Reed seems over the top in her performance, but that’s sort of the point.
By far the best performance of the series is given by Peter Outerbridge (Umbrella Academy, Saw VI). His character, DNS scientist Calix Niklos is one of the most subtle and compelling people in the series. We’re never quite sure whose side he’s one or what he’s going to do next. Unfortunately the writing for many of these characters can often feel clichéd and over the top, but not so much with him.
Overall, V-Wars Season 1 has amazing ideas, but settles for okay rather than great due to missed opportunities with writing and acting. Its cliffhanger ending however does it leave it room to improve and fully realize its potential!