I thought I had hacked it. ‘You’ll love the twist; I didn’t see it coming!’ were the words of fellow viewers I shook off with confidence. The psychological thriller embedded in the quaint charm of an English town is a formula well acquainted with the British public, and yet Netflix’s new mindbender, Behind Her Eyes takes the slow burn to new heights, pulling off the ‘double twist’ with immense success. Based on the Sarah Pinborough novel of the same name, Netflix’s adaptation pursues an intensified approach to the narratives sensual and almost surrealist undertones. Behind Her Eyes isn’t your average domestic thriller with a pinch of murder thrown in, it’s a plot that’ll haunt you long after its six hours are finished; and probably make you google how to spy on your neighbour whilst sat on the toilet.
Recently divorced and looking for love, Louise Barnsley fits the working mum with a glass of wine a night, cookie cutter sort of life. On an unsuccessful bar trip, she meets the elusive David. Who, in a cliched, Grey’s-Anatomy style turn of events, appears as her new boss the following day. Hesitant in his desire to kiss her the previous night, Louise catches the glossy shine of a sharp bob and the surprising intimidation of an all-white outfit in his office that next day. Oh god, he’s married.
The sophisticated yet somewhat brittle Adele seems to be everything Louise hoped David’s wife wouldn’t be – friendly, inviting and suspiciously interested in obtaining her friendship, after bumping into her on the street. Convinced she can contain any suspicion; Louise attaches herself to both David and his wife whilst progressively becoming ensnared in the cracks of their marriage. A spotless house, inherited wealth, and yet both seem unhappy. This is a couple well versed in keeping up appearances, and it isn’t long before Louise senses that there are more skeletons in their closet than merely adultery and dwindled love.
Hazing between her past and present, Adele is the centre of this twisted menage-et-trois, with the imploding damage of her family’s death and another initially ambiguous event, seeming to have changed her entirely. Adorned with a blunt bob in present day, Adele’s sacrifice of her youthful curls pictured in flashbacks, performs as an example of Daisy Leigh Phippard’s exploration into female haircuts on screen. Typically synonymised with rejections of femininity or mental dishevelment, Adele’s shift of appearance provides a minute visual nod that this woman is (in a way you wouldn’t expect) entirely altered from her past self.
Heightening Louise’s intrigue into the couple’s murky 10-year past, is the journal of Rob Hoyle- an old friend of Adele’s who met her in a Rehabilitation centre after the demise of her family home. As Louise involves herself more in Adele’s history with the help of Hoyle’s journal, her ties to David become increasingly doubtful. More so when it’s made apparent that Adele’s old friend has seemingly disappeared from the face of the earth. Is he abusing her? Is he hiding something? Could he be a murderer? All possible and logically feasible options for Louise to consider. Logic, however, is not the route to Adele and David truth. As the narrative swerves into the potential of the supernatural and metaphysical, it’s no longer certain that David himself is the oppressor.
With its final episodes shock factor maintaining its presence at Netflix’s No.1, Behind her Eyes is a successful expansion upon the monotony of murder, adultery and lies that feel almost empty in modern BBC thrillers. For an audience desensitised to the ordinary, superficial drama, Netflix new addition explores its potential on extra-terrestrial, psychosexual soil.
It’s a suburban thriller for when you’re sick of suburban thrillers.
Featured Image Source: Still via Youtube