Netflix marketed Freud as a “historical thriller,” but the show abandons any semblance of historical accuracy in the first episode.
The famous psychologist is recast as a Viennese Sherlock Holmes and copies several of Sherlock’s character traits and vices. Dabbling in hypnosis, occult séances and witches, Freud finds himself helping the police in the hunt for a gruesome serial killer.
The show bites off more than it can chew in this confusing eight-part series. Read on for a full review.
1. Article Summary
Freud, fronted by a cocaine-addicted hypnosis enthusiast hunting for a serial killer, appears lost inside a maze of subplots and psychedelic visions.
Director Marvin Kren manages to create a gruesome horror show, with great cinematography and score.
The show might appeal to psychology enthusiasts and those looking for some hypnotic horror but doesn’t do enough to make a mark.
2. Is it Worth Watching?
The series generated a lot of buzz when it was revealed that the Austrian horror expert, Marvin Kren was going to helm the project. Freud is set in Vienna where Freud spent the majority of his life. It is a manifestation of repressed psyches and quickly descends into a nonsensical horror show.
We are introduced to Sigmund Freud a man whose life is in shambles. His idea of using hypnosis to cure hysteria is ridiculed. His fiancée is about to leave him and his father views him as a disappointment.
He is pulled into a murder investigation when a policeman literally dumps a body on his table. They quickly realize that the gruesome murders taking place throughout Vienna are the work of a serial killer.
The show introduces various subplots that end up complicating the story line instead of adding to it. There is also a Hungarian political revolution brewing due to the past conflicts between Austria and Hungary.
Freud the Jew faces discrimination as a wave of anti-Semitism covers Europe and the killer they are hunting seems to be better at the art of hypnosis than Freud.
The socio-political landscape is accurate and gives us a glimpse inside the 1880s Vienna. Nonetheless, these storylines are exploited and abandoned as required by writers Benjamin Hessler and Stefan Brunner and fail to add any depth to the plot.
By the end of the first episode, the show starts appearing more ridiculous and less historical. It doesn’t help when the initial episodes featuring a glimmer of Freud’s psychology theories are replaced by occult and séance practices in the final episodes.
II. Cast & Performances
Robert Finster plays the glum, rugged, cocaine-addicted Freud navigating between secrets, suspects, and séances. He does a good job depicting the struggle that Freud faces from every quarter of his life.
Ella Rumph pulls off an amazing performance as the Hungarian medium Fleur Salome with a split personality. It is Georg Friedrich who stands out as Inspector Alfred Kiss the man who involves Freud in the murder investigation.
He battles his demons and repressed trauma while chasing a serial killer through a minefield of trigger points.
III. Visuals and Music
The haunting visuals and gloomy tunes help to set the eerie mood in gothic 19th Century Vienna.
The haunting production design and several shots of beautifully low lit séances are some of the best moments of the show. The haunting score throughout the 8-part series also lends to the atmosphere of horror.
3. Final Thoughts
In Freud, fiction overshadows fact by such a large extent, that the writers take several creative liberties in a desperate attempt to keep the show afloat. It is impossible to grasp the plot initially as so much happens on screen in the first two episodes.
It is also disappointing to see when it amounts to so little. There are several parts where the series is a slog as notable moments are few and far between.
The show tries to include some of Freud’s famous psychology theories in the initial episodes, building expectations of the fans but later abandons any such pretense. Black magic, hypnotism, and occult practices take the front seat in this hastily assembled mumbo-jumbo of a show.
With the world stuck at home and craving something new and exciting to watch, Freud might see viewers flock to it hoping for an escape from the mundane.
But, the series is a let-down considering the massively talented creative team behind him. When all the superimposed layers of gore, horror, and occult are peeled back, Freud remains an average underdog hunting a serial killer.