Netflix’s chilling new thriller series Devil In Ohio tells the story of a mysterious young woman who escapes from a satanic cult in small-town America.
In the realm of true crime, there’s nothing like reading the phrase “based on true events” to let you know that you’re in for a wild ride. After all, life is indeed stranger than fiction at times, and you need only look at recent entries in the canon for proof of that. Take upcoming drama A Friend Of The Family, based on the multiple (!) kidnappings of 12-year-old Jan Broberg; Netflix’s new documentary Sins Of Our Mother, about the most notorious mother in America; or Jessica Biel’s chilling new series Candy, which explores the real-life case of a Texan housewife who axed her best friend to death in 1980.
But if there’s any show guaranteed to send shivers down your spine this autumn, it’s Netflix’s upcoming thriller Devil In Ohio.
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It centres upon hospital psychiatrist Dr Suzanne Mathis (Bones’s Emily Deschanel) who grants shelter in her home to a mysterious cult escapee (Madeleine Arthur) who turns up at her workplace in a severely traumatised state.
This act of charity starts to go very wrong, though, when the girl’s arrival threatens to tear her own family apart with her eerie behaviour. Is she simply a victim looking for a new start or does she have an agenda of her own?
This isn’t just another TV series serving up culty mayhem, though. Based on the 2017 bestselling novel of the same name penned by Daria Polatin, the series is inspired by true events.
In an interview with The Dispatch, Polatin, who has also written for Castle Rock and Jack Ryan, described how she knew she “had to tell” the story after her producer Rachel Miller told her about a true crime case that took place in Ohio.
“The bones of the story are true and happened,” she explained, “and I wanted to take that as a jumping-off point.”
Polatin explained that she then adapted the story in her book, inventing a fictional Midwestern town where a young woman has a harrowing escape from a satanic cult.
“It’s inspired by true events, but it’s not a documentary,” she continued. “That’s just a different kind of storytelling.
“For this, I felt that the best outlet would be to free it up creatively and fictionalise the details and let it take on a life of its own. (The real story) did take place in Ohio…”
Chilling stuff, right? And the trailer only ramps up the menacing vibe. In the clip, we see the darkness that begins to unfold when loving mother Suzanne offers the mysterious Mae a place to stay in her home until a more permanent foster family is made available.
Mae might have been through extraordinary “traumas”, but her behaviour is unsettling, especially when she starts competing with Suzanne’s 15-year-old daughter, Jules (Xaria Dotson), for her mother’s attentions.
Meanwhile, the Ohioan police begin to uncover disturbing evidence that Mae has escaped from a nearby satanic cult. She’s not just any escapee, though, but a significant player in their demonic activities.
“No one ever leaves except your girl,” a detective tells Suzanne over scenes of Mae being bound by rope. “Who, I’m guessing by the way they’ve marked her, is vital to them.”
The nail-biting final seconds of the trailer leave us in no doubt that Mae’s is anything but innocent as Suzanne desperately searches for her in the middle of a corn field. By the looks of things, this may be one of the best true-crime-meets-thriller series we’ve had this year.
Devil In Ohio will be available to stream on Netflix on 2 September
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