Aside from a really clever title and an interesting concept, I dislike almost everything about this show. And I genuinely wish I didn't. When I heard that the BBC has a show on that is about a murder investigation but told backward, I was like "Hell yeah, this is what I came here for!" But after the third reversed water flow in thirty minutes that flung me into what is essentially a prettier version of the Tardis time transition and dropping me back into a place I didn't understand, I was like "damn, this is not what I came here for."
A serial killer thriller told in reverse, Rellik follows DCI Gabriel Markham (Richard Dormer) as he tries to discover who is behind a series of gruesome mutilations and murders.
I can applaud Harry and Jack Williams for their innovation and originality. And I can applaud Chris Clough and the BBC for taking the risk and pushing the cinematic boundaries by producing this wild program. And while I think it does have some good moments, the overall premise of the show falls flat. Because of its backward linage, the program is clunky, uninteresting, and dissociative, which pains me to say because I really wanted this idea to work. But alas, Christopher Nolan is still the only one who can successfully tell a story backward on film.
Speaking of Nolan, I believe where Rellik went wrong was the fact it's a six-part television series. It's impossible to tell a story backward over the course of 6 hours. It's impossible to stay engaged with a story that, for one, airs only once a week, and that spans such a long time. Its also disassociating when, just as you're about to get engaged into the store, everything starts moving backward and there you back into the void with no understanding of where you are. It's confusing, it's frustrating, and it's quite honestly boring.
On that note, Rellik had some interesting moments that did actually prove to be beneficial to the backward narrative. There were moments (one, in particular, being Christine's supposed reasoning why she took Dr. Taylor's laptop) that really engaged me and made me question what was going on. And this moment, if told in a linear arc, would not have been as compelling. But it also works the other way around too. Moments that should have been really powerful and impactful in a linear story (Elaine's depressing funeral for her father) were just nonsense in this story because you just didn't have a clue who their character even where or what they were doing. It's a smart idea (and one that was cleverly crafted in a concise 2 hour Nolan film) and again I applaud the ingenuity, but sadly it just didn't work.
What I can praise this program on its pretty stellar cast. Richard Dormer is a brooding and angry Gabriel Markham. Of course, you don't know why this guy is so angry, but, to me, that is what makes this performance so engaging. You want to know what happened to make him this way. (And he acts through the prosthetics pretty well, too, which is not an easy feat.) Similarly, Rosalind Eleazar dominates as Christine. To me, she is the real star of the program. Without knowing who her character was or what her deal was, you just instantly gravitate towards her. She commands the screen and makes every scene hers.
I'm going to keep watching Rellik (if I can stomach all those horrible reversed time montages) just to see if the brilliant concept pays off. I'm sad this show didn't live up to my high exceptions, but it was still a valiant effort.
Rellik airs on BBC One Sunday nights at 9
Click the images below to read each article
Red Carpet Interviews
Toronto International Film Festival 2022
Film East Chats Podcast on BBC Radio Norfolk
This is a small section of episodes from the Film East podcast. Click here to listen to all episodes.